Woorim Beach sand back-passing trial

Council is trialling an innovative sand back-passing system to help manage erosion along Woorim Beach.

The system recycles sand that naturally shifts southwards along the beach, pumping it from Benalong Street as far as Fifth Avenue, with optional release points along the way if needed.

It will operate for up to five years, helping to recycle about 40,000 cubic metres of sand each year.

The system is designed to avoid any impact on coastal and marine wildlife and will help maintain and restore Woorim Beach, protecting important coastal habitat from the impacts of erosion.

Pumping will occur during daylight hours and will be limited to times of the year when there are favourable wind and wave conditions, so council can appropriately manage any beach erosion issues.

Pumping will only take place over a total of about 2-3 months per year, typically during spring and summer.

During the trial, council will closely monitor operations to ensure there are no adverse impact on residents, visitors, the environment or wildlife that use the beaches.

Council is also completing works to improve the beach access area at Benalong Street including improvements to the visual amenity of the trial sand-back passing system, tree planting, a new beach shower and dog wash area, and new fencing.

Location

Benalong Street, Woorim 4507  View map

Google Map

Woorim shoreline erosion management plan

In 2007 council commissioned a report into the ongoing erosion of the Woorim Beach shoreline.  The report titled the Woorim Shoreline Erosion Management Plan (SEMP) presented a range of activities for managing erosion at Woorim.

A significant conclusion of the SEMP is that long-term erosion of sand is currently occurring at a rate of about 35,000 cubic metres every year.  Without replenishment of the sand, ongoing erosion will continue to affect the Woorim foreshore.

The SEMP investigated a range of options to address the erosion risk, including beach nourishment (pumping of sand onto the beach) and seawalls. After consideration of all options, the primary recommended strategy was for regular, ongoing beach nourishment.

This option was favoured over ‘hard’ structures such as seawalls as it improves beach amenity, stability of dunes for turtle nesting, and directly addresses the ongoing, persistent erosion of sand with the least amount of environmental and visual impact.

Periodic beach nourishment has been occurring at Woorim since the late 1980s, with about 620,000 cubic metres of sand placed between 1988 and 2007.  Since 2007, a further 450,000 cubic metres of sand has been placed at Woorim with the nourishment material sourced from offshore sand reserves.

An independent review of the SEMP, including the effectiveness of the beach nourishment works, was completed in 2011 and concluded that the nourishment works have contributed to maintaining the beach profile, are providing improved protection from storm events and should be continued. 

Following 2011, council experienced difficulties in securing contractors to complete the programmed beach nourishment works due to the unavailability of the Port of Brisbane’s dredger the ‘Brisbane’ and a very limited pool of alternative suitable contractors. As a result, only one nourishment campaign occurred between 2012 and 2018 and council initiated an investigation of alternate nourishment sources and methods, with a sand back-passing system identified as a potentially viable strategy to address the ongoing, long term erosion trends.

The advantages of a sand back-passing system include the flexibility to undertake regular back-passing works without being wholly dependent on dredging contractors, and to be able to respond to erosion events quickly.

Detailed studies into the feasibility of a sand back-passing system were completed by specialist consultants who concluded that a sand back-passing system, similar to those installed at Noosa, Maroochydore, and the Gold Coast, would be an appropriate means of addressing coastal erosion at the Woorim site.

Community consultation for the project was completed in conjunction with the detailed studies, including two community information and feedback sessions held in 2016.

Following refinements in the layout and design of the system in response to community and stakeholder feedback, council approved the construction and operation of a trial sand back-passing system in September 2017.  The project is currently approved as a trial for a period of 3-5 years.  Subject to the success of the trial, a permanent installation will be provided.

Woorim Beach sand back-passing trial location of works
  1. Pump station
  2. Seawater intake pipe
  3. Sand intake pipes
  4. 2 km sand transfer pipe
  5. Optional sand placement outlets
  6. Primary sand outlet