January 16th 2009
Councillors inspect storm damage
Following the near cyclonic storm which struck Magnetic Island earlier this week on top of huge tides, Townsville City Councillors, David Crisafulli, Vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts came to Magnetic today to inspect damage and talk to locals.
The councillor's first meeting was with a group of concerned Islanders at one of the hardest hit locations: Nelly Bay beach, which has suffered tremendous losses of sand with the undermining of the Casuarina trees along the foreshore to levels previously not seen. Metres of foreshore dune has simply vanished and the sight is both stark and sad.
Deputy Mayor David Crisafulli (centre)
listens to the locals at the meeting
The meeting consisted of locals, most of whom live on the Esplanade or nearby.
Deputy Mayor, David Crisafulli and Cr Vern Veitch answered many questions concerning what could and could not be done about the alarming progress the sea was making. It was quickly pointed out that Council is powerless to conduct any sort of work on the beach, which is state Marine Park, without the State's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval.
There were strenuous calls for rock walls to be built to protect the Esplanade from further intrusions but this was countered by Cr Veitch who claimed that rock walls actually contribute to beach erosion.
Councillors vern Veitch and Trevor Roberts
at the beach meeting
It was however revealed that a beach erosion study was underway and, at first, it was thought that the study's finding could be tabled at the next meeting of the Council committee in February. This could inform a proper, long-term, approach to the beach's remediation. A quick call back to Council by David Crisafulli to clarify the study's progress revealled, however, that Council and the EPA had differed over how much detail the study required. Subsequently, and the look on Cr Crisafulli's face seemed to say it all, the study was only now about to be commissioned.
Cr Veitch explained that, EPA willing, it might be useful to try what amount to "sand sausages" being set in the shallows along the beach. These are made of geotech fabric with sand pumped inside. They are, according to Vern Veitch, a soft barrier and could allow sand to build up around them. Cr Veitch ultimately favours a sloping sandy beach as the best way to absorb the energy produced by the waves.
Cr Vern Veitch photographs some of the
In the short term however, the Councillors promised to have the dead trees along the beach removed and listened to calls from a local excavator operator to move sand, from the sand trap above the Sooning Street bridge on Gustav Creek, to the beach. This accompanied complaints that sand from the trap was being dumped elsewhere. While the councillors on hand seemed unaware of the practice Magnetic Times understands that this was done because the sand has a high nutrient level - filtering upstream septics - and would further threaten nutrient-sensitive corals offshore.
Perhaps the strongest message to emerge was that the Queensland Government had declared Townsville and Magnetic a Natural Disaster Area which frees up funding from the state. The councillors were also pointing out that there is an election this year and that it was a very good time to call for state help and that residents should lobby Member for Townsville, Mike Reynolds, to not forget Magnetic Island.
Magnetic Island's designated Councillor, the recently elected, Trevor Roberts, made few contributions but listened carefully and no doubt will have lots to consider as he climbs the steep curve of learning that comes with representing Magnetic Island.
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