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The Surfside sand berm saga - an update

Dear Beagle Editor, The following is an updated letter to the Ministers regarding the depositing of sand at West Surfside Beach (sometimes also referred to in other documents as McLeods Beach), Surfside. It is provided here in good faith to keep those interested in this saga informed of the status of my enquiries.

Dear Ministers

After my previous letter to yourselves was released on-line, the community has rallied and uncovered information that has made my initial concerns seem even more justified. The fact that council simply blamed DPI Crown Lands for raising Surfside dune coupled with the fact that the Crown Lands engineer responsible was instructed not to respond to queries in any way, led me to draw some incorrect conclusions that I will now correct.

Firstly, the Clyde river was dredged twice by DPI Crown Lands. The first finished in Dec2013 and the second finished in Dec2016. For the first project, Crown Lands contracted a local environmental consultancy company to provide the ‘due diligence’ specialist report that I referred to in my first letter. As explained, his report recommended not raising Surfside dune for many reasons. However, two years later, Crown Lands again contracted the same local environmental consultancy company, this time, to manage the entire second dredging project and this project included transportation of the sand and carrying out work to raise Surfside dune!

Given that Crown Lands will not respond in any way, it is reasonable to assume that in carrying out the second dredging the local environmental consultancy company went against their own advice not to raise Surfside dune. This was apparently done without the ‘extensive’ study that they recommended (or they would have simply provided it and avoided escalating my concerns). As a retired engineer, I cannot accept that ignoring your own opinion and ignoring all engineering protocols to carry out further(mandatory) studies can be claimed as an ‘honest mistake’. An investigation into what has occurred with Crown Lands and their Project Manager is warranted for the safety of the community.

Further raising suspicions is they manner in which the raising of the dune was carried out at considerable expense. The work was carried out in such haste that sand was dumped on the existing vegetation and done at the peak of the tourist season. The fact that it was a Crown Lands project meant that a D.A was not required, therefore councillors’ (or community) approval wasn’t required. The only time the community was advised of raising Surfside dune was via a media release from DPI Crown Lands stating the fact. The media release (attached to this e-mail) is dated Aug2016. At this time, the community didn’t even have councillors to represent them as we were in caretaker mode prior to the Sept2016 elections and most people in the community who would normally read the media release were busy helping candidates with election campaigns.

In my opinion, and that of the project manager, raising the dune at Surfside will result in the sand moving to the South West end of the beach. The sand will (and has) build up forming a berm in front of the dunes causing the creek to back up and threaten sewage and houses. This will eventually ‘blow out’ and the sand will be dispatched back into the Clyde river to be transported back to the hole that it was dredged from. The local environmental consultancy company clearly stated this fact when he said the “nourished sand could be lost before it was added to the beach profile”. What, then has influenced this project manager/engineer for Crown Lands to authorise works that he knew were both futile and potentially dangerous? Where are the required ‘extensive’ studies of sediment movement within the Bay? The community deserves answers.

Awaiting your reply

Vivek Sethi NOTE: The description "local environmental consultancy company" has been substituted for the name of the company advised to the Ministers by Mr Sethi in his original letter. The name of that company nor it's engineer will NOT BE ALLOWED in the comments below nor will the name of the Crown Lands engineer. Play the issue, the positions but not the person.


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