Last Roll of the Dice For Kirra
On Monday at 3pm in the afternoon work began on the extension of Kirra groyne. Why Gold Coast City Council chose mid-afternoon on a Monday to commence work isn't clear and I'll leave the shovel-bending, council worker jokes to others.
What I do know is this: The Kirra Point Incorporated (KPI) crew have been lobbying all levels of government for the best part of a decade to restore Kirra. They've had festivals and protests, they've issued press releases and rock songs, they've had excavators on the beach and solutions a'plenty. And now they believe the most likely way to restore Kirra is by extending the groyne thirty metres seaward.
After a few false moves Gold Coast City Council struck a bargain with KPI and put $800,000 aside in the 2013/14 budget to extend the groyne to its previous length.
In 1996 thirty metres of Kirra groyne was removed by council in somewhat mysterious circumstances. Local identities Wayne Deane and Joe Nowak report driving around the corner at Kirra to see council excavators removing rocks from the groyne. No notice was given of the work and the groyne was shortened with no public consultation. Both Deane and Nowak claim to have been stymied during FOI requests while investigating the work.
The removal of the tip of Kirra groyne may not have mattered except that the Tweed River Entrance Sand Bypassing Project (TRESBP) began pumping sand in 2001. The outcome of this for Kirra is well known, but KPI is now hoping that the groyne extension will change the shape of the lower end of the Superbank. The rationale is simple: sand will build up on the Coolangatta Beach side of the groyne and erode on the Kirra side. Kirra has always been best when there is very little sand against the headland.
Working in their favour is that volumes of sand running through TRESBP have reduced since the 2004/05 peak when the operators had a surplus of sand on the Letitia Spit side to pump. That sand ended up on the beaches of Rainbow Bay, Greenmount, Coolangatta and Kirra, and has proven very hard to move.
Yet the 2012 and 2013 volume of sand running through TRESBP now mimics the natural sand flow around Point Danger (approx. 500,000 cubic/metres). There are no longer the excessive volumes of years past, meaning if beach reduction occurs - which is what KPI want to have happen at Kirra - it will take much longer for accretion to rebuild it. Not to mention a period of small, weak waves.
While nothing's certain, the details behind KPI's plan appear sound and they may just achieve their goal. What is certain, however, is that this is the last roll of the dice for KPI: They've finally wooed the government and scored $800,000 of taxpayer money, if this doesn't work the public purse will slam shut and with it the funding for further solutions.