Gold Coast Council, Getting Ahead Of Beach Erosion

by Tony Sinclair

Residents living on Australia's envious golden tiara of east-coast beaches face the dual erosion threats of rising sea levels and freak storms.

The first culprit is the familiar enemy, global warming. The second, a result of poor planning 40 years ago allowing high-rise unit blocks to be built just metres from the sand.

A UN climate report has identified QLD's Gold Coast, and Collaroy/Narrabeen on Sydney's Northern Beaches, at highest risk of critical erosion, predicting $245M damage at Narrabeen with a 20cm sea level increase.

Even the lower end of the IPCC's predictions on rising sea levels - 10cm by 2040 - is enough to cause alarm for the 80% of Australians living 100km from the ocean, as the country may have to face the financial and social costs of mass urban relocation.

The Gold Coast council has led the way among Australian coastal authorities in addressing beach erosion. In just a few years the Gold Coast has found room in a tight budget for an artificial reef and sub-surface rock wall, in addition to regular sand replenishment.

The measures have made a noticeable impact on the size of waves and the frequency of king tides, with reduced need to truck more sand in.

These counter-erosion steps have faced vocal protest from local green groups, apparently opposed to technological solutions to a 'natural' problem.

The familiar question is, what's the alternative?

With the risk of homes being washed away, we're faced with hard decisions to maintain our world-class lifestyle, at one with the natural environment.

-Tony S.

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