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Coastal erosion information day coming up in Mercury Bay

06 August 2018

Residents in the Mercury Bay area are invited to an information day on coastal erosion, which will be top-of-mind for many after last month's storm and king tide event caused damage to the coastline.

The information days will be held in two venues on Saturday, August 11:

• Cooks Beach Hall: 9:30am-11:30am
• Mercury Bay Boating Club, 90 Buffalo Beach Road: 2:30pm - 4:30pm

Residents can drop in and chat to Council staff and Mercury Bay Community Board members about erosion and coastal management in the area.

Coastal erosion has been a problem in Mercury Bay for the last four decades, with climate change, development activity and natural coastal cycles among the possible causes.

The combination of king tides and the extreme weather event on  15 July caused further erosion damage along the Mercury Bay coast.

In Cooks Beach, the memorial cairn fell off the reserve and onto the beach as more erosion occurred. Emergency works adjacent to this have been completed to protect our storm water infrastructure.

Our Council has been working on a detailed assessment of the erosion, particularly in regards to any risk to the road which is about 6-8m away from the erosion at this section of the beach. In recent weeks our coastal engineer and coastal scientists have been at the site to discuss more appropriate and durable options to protect our infrastructure, reserves and heritage.

Appropriate hard coastal protection structures in combination with soft engineering options will be considered as management options for Cooks Beach and the nearby Purangi Reserve.

At Flaxmill Bay, extensive erosion occurred, which threatened our road and other infrastructure. Emergency works have nearly been completed, while a permanent and appropriate solution to protect our infrastructure from further erosion is being detailed.

This is likely to include hard and soft engineering elements as well as enhanced amenity facilities. Our objective is to complete the design and construction by July 2019.

Hannafords Wharf path damaged

During the same weather event, some major erosion occurred and cracks appeared at the top of the newly-built path down to Hannafords Wharf near Coromandel Town. The path is now closed for health and safety reasons, with a temporary bypass path in place. We are working as quickly as possible to repair the damage with a more durable and resilient solution.

Managing our coastline

This year our Council approved, in its 2018-2028 Long Term Plan, $2.6M over the next three years to investigate coastal hazards, fund community-based resilience and coastal hazard response planning as part of our Coastal Management Strategy (CMS).

Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) are being developed over the next three years as part of the CMS implementation. This will look at the full Coromandel coastline and work out what can reasonably be done to counter the effects of erosion and inundation, while working with nature as much as possible.

This year our Council appointed a coastal engineer, Jan van der Vliet, who is responsible for our coastal activities including the development of the SMPs.

"Everything really is on the table, from the increased use of soft options such as sand push-ups and dune plantings to groynes, rock walls and other hard structures," Jan says.

"We won't be considering pockets of coastline in isolation, but will look at the natural coastal processes boundaries, no matter who owns what in between. The reason is because it's simply not possible to implement a solution in one area without effecting some changes in another area."

Our Council's Area Manager North, Allan Tiplady, says that the dune planting programmes that are currently in place in the Mercury Bay area will continue. "Despite the fact that some of the dune plantings along Buffalo Beach have been taken away by the waves in the storm of 15 July, we firmly believe that well-established dune vegetation is a viable solution to coastal erosion," Allan says.

"The dune plantings that have been washed away at Buffalo Beach, next to the existing rock wall and in front of the Mercury Bay Boating Club, were all relatively new plantings. The plantings that were done four and five yards ago, closer to the Taputapuatea spit, held up well in the storm."

A planting day at the Taputapuatea Spit is planned for the end of August. www.tcdc.govt.nz/coastalmanagement has more details.