Erosion at Grace Darling Park critical

Since this photo was taken in 2016 and even though the Grace Darling Park gazebo has been relocated there has been more severe erosion in the area. File picture

IT could be at least three months before the Shire of Gingin is able to start implementing a process to temporarily put a stop to erosion at Grace Darling Park while it continues the search for a long term solution and also funding.

At its July 16 ordinary meeting chief executive officer Aaron Cook told councillors he needed to get a detailed design from M P Rogers & Associates, which had been commissioned by the shire to provide an emergency solution and various options to limit or stop the erosion in the short term.

Mr Cook said then another four to six weeks was needed for a tender to go out, which then had to come back to the council.

He said the shire was not going to be at the park next week filling sandbags and that in reality it was going to be a minimum of three months before works started.

On June 19 the shire said emergency remedial work was required at the park coastline after storm surges on June 7-9 caused severe erosion.

The shire said sand from a local pit would be used to replenish the area starting on June 20 and continuing for a couple of days.

An officer’s report presented to the council on July 16 said due to the recent erosion the scale of the works had increased from 140m to about 300m and therefore the cost was significantly higher than previously proposed so the project could cost an estimated $650,000.

In addition the report said the funding request presented to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) to help protect the Lancelin Sea Search & Rescue Group building from coastal erosion had been rejected with DFES advising that emergency service levy funds could not be used for that purpose.

The report said the council was still trying to meet with Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan and that a call for a meeting with Premier Mark McGowan would happen in a few days.

“Council is still waiting on advice with respect to a grant application submitted earlier in the year for these works for the amount of $120,000,’’ the report said.

On July 16 the council voted unanimously for an amended motion put forward by councillor Wayne Fewster that the shire start a tender process for a soft wall protection option outlined in the M P Rogers report to install geo textile bag protection for about 250m to 300m of coastline.

This differed from the officer’s recommendation which said the 250m to 300m of soft wall protection should start from the Edwards Island Point end heading north and stopping prior to the Lancelin Sea Search & Rescue Group building until state funds were forthcoming.

Councillors also agreed that the council agree to consider raising a loan to fund the construction of the soft wall as part of its 2019-20 Budget deliberations.

They also decided to continue to advocate and pursue disaster relief funding (state/federal) for the construction of the protection wall and to continue to explore other options for long term protection of the Lancelin Bay.

Lester Smith from Blacktop Consulting Engineers said he got the impression that last year the shire’s steering committee dismissed the importance of understanding the cause of the erosion in preference for what they perceived would be a quick fix to the urgent problem of saving the sea search and rescue building by constructing a sea wall.

The M P Rogers report dated July 2019 said there was an erosion scarp of about 1.5m to 2m high with building rubble exposed in the scarp.

“There is about 7m buffer to the building at its narrowest point,’’ the report said.

“At the concrete pad in front of the gazebo there is about 4m buffer to the top of the erosion scarp.

“There is less buffer to the showers and soakwells in front of the toiletblock, which appear at risk from any future erosion.

“The trees at the southern end of the site are being undermined and lost.

“While the root mass is assisting and reducing erosion locally, they are likely to be lost with further erosion.

“While on site to inspect the erosion several other key item were noted – even under  the reasonably mild conditions at the time of inspection, the water level was at the toe of the dunes.

“This indicates that even with a modest storm surge and waves further erosion would be experienced.

“The erosion scarp was near vertical along most of the park.

“Even without further erosion of the dune, this would be expected to slump to a natural angle of repose, further reducing the buffer to infrastructure.

“This indicates the risk to infrastructure, with further storm events likely to reduce the buffer to critical levels.’’