The Portland Beach Safety and Restoration Alliance is urging the state government to take action against a five-mile beach wall described as “fatality waiting to happen.”
Chief Executive Officer Dean Beckman said the citizen science group, endorsed by the Department of Lands, Water and Planning and Deakin University, has collected significant amounts of data and coastal surveys in as part of the Victorian Coastal Monitoring Program.
Mr Beckman said the rock face was a “fate to come”.
“The community doesn’t want any more reports or studies on the rock face, we want immediate action to reduce the risk,” he said.
“Upgrading the few existing old-fashioned groynes is a plug-and-play project that will immediately reduce the risk. If these preventable incidents happened in the private sector, business leaders would be sent to jail.
Mr Beckman was spurred on by a near miss in 2016 when his daughter was nearly crushed by a rock.
Recently, an elderly woman broke her femur while falling from the rock face and found herself in 13-degree water until emergency services arrived.
A 17-year-old Portland boy died in 2014 after falling on an artificial section of the rock face.
The rock face was originally built to stop the extensive erosion of beaches up to 200 meters, which occurred after the Portland Harbor was built in the 1950s. Some residents spent $ 300,000 of their own money on it. build the wall in order to save their properties.
Mr. Beckman described the construction of the rock face as a “quick fix”.
“We have spent the last 16 months collecting data with Deakin and our research suggests that by installing reef groynes they will start to improve the area,” he said.
“The only way to safely solve the problem is to use a combination of outer reefs and sand regeneration.
“Properly designed T-shaped reef groynes are the most economical solution and are scientifically proven to be the best form of shoreline protection against accelerated climate change and sea level rise.”
Groynes are classified as a difficult alternative to stop erosion. Groynes are built in the sea at fixed places and have been proven to help create beaches and stop erosion.
The Portland Beach Safety and Restoration Alliance has written to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio to present their findings and urge the state government to fund the reef groin trial.
“Without immediate corrective action, we will certainly incur another serious injury and / or death,” Beckman said.
“The funds allocated for rock face reconstruction will be directed towards a more scientifically proven, proactive and adaptive approach to coastal erosion, which will increase safety and reduce ongoing maintenance costs for local and state governments.
“We don’t want another study, we need urgent action.”
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