Delivering external sand to West Beach

Frequently asked questions

The Securing the future of our coastline project includes a commitment to source 500,000 cubic metres of external sand to replenish West Beach. 

When will the external sand be delivered?

The state government has announced that up to 250,000 cubic metres of sand from land-based quarries will be delivered to West Beach in 2021.

Using quarry sand for the first phase of the mass replenishment will ensure that large volumes of sand are delivered to West Beach before the end of 2021 while investigation of other potential sand sources continues.

The likely timing for the delivery of quarry sand is from July to December 2021. Final details in relation to timing will be available in coming months as contracts are awarded.

Prior to this sand will be moved from Semaphore to West Beach commencing in May 2021.

Why is sand from elsewhere needed?

Sand from outside of Adelaide’s metropolitan beach system – or ‘external sand’ is needed because there is a limited amount of sand in Adelaide’s beach system. This is because sand has been ‘locked up’ by building on top of the natural dune systems.

Adding sand to Adelaide’s beach system is needed to raise the beach levels and boost sand dune buffers at West Beach and Henley Beach South. It will also help to address the impacts of rising sea levels.

The last large importation of sand into Adelaide’s beach system was in the 1990s when approximately 1.2 million cubic metres of sand from Port Stanvac was supplied to Brighton beach.

Research undertaken by external consultants DHI considered that this helped sustain Adelaide’s beaches for at least 10 years.

south-brighton-restoration

Image: Shoreham Road, South Brighton in 1985 and 2018. More than 1 million cubic metres of sand was imported in the late 1990s to create dunes, and now with the help of the sand recycling pipeline and dedicated dune care volunteers, these beaches are maintained and looking beautiful year round. 

What about offshore sources of sand?

Sand is a finite resource and there is a limited amount of sand in Adelaide’s beach system. 

Historically the Port Stanvac offshore deposits have been used to replenish Adelaide’s beaches. But detailed investigations in 2020 have found that the remaining sand at Port Stanvac isn’t suitable for beach replenishment. It’s too fine, and the silt and clay content is too high. The risk of a plume occurring during dredging is also too high.  View the findings and reports

Using quarry sand for the first phase of the mass replenishment will ensure that large volumes of sand are delivered to West Beach before the end of the year while investigation of other potential sand sources continues.

quarry-sand-inspection

Successful quarry sand trials have been undertaken at West Beach

Can any type of sand go onto the beach?

No, the sand from quarries and from offshore sources needs to have certain characteristics to do the job of beach and dune stabilisation. 

Coarser sands (larger grain sizes) are better because they are heavier and are less likely to be moved along the coast by wind and waves.

The sand also needs to have a low percentage of silt and clay particles so that plumes aren’t caused after the sand is placed on the beach.

How do you know that quarry sand is suitable for beach replenishment?

A successful trial was conducted at West Beach in December 2020 which demonstrated that commercial quarries are a viable source of high quality external sand with low environmental risks.

Quarry sand is readily available and does not have the potential environmental risks associated with dredging sand from offshore sources. 

More information