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Topics > Coasts > Managing Adelaide's beaches > Frequently asked questions

Delivering external sand to West Beach

Frequently asked questions

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

West Beach artist impression

Above: An artist’s impression of how West Beach may look in the future.

Delivering external sand to West Beach

Quarry sand delivery commenced to West Beach in August 2021

When is the external sand being delivered?

The state government 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 initial delivery of quarry sand is from August to December 2021. Works will pause from 18 December 2021 and resume on 31 January 2021. Quarry sand delivery is expected to conclude by mid-2022.

Delivering external sand to West Beach

Above: August 2021 - the start of quarry sand delivery to West Beach Parks dunes

Prior to this sand has been moved from Semaphore to West Beach.

Delivering external sand to West Beach

View the progress so far (August to October 2021)

West Beach timelapse and drone October 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.

When did external sand last come into Adelaide's beach system

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

Delivering external sand to West Beach

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.

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.

Delivering external sand to West Beach

Successful quarry sand trials have been undertaken at West 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.

Quarry sand trials at West Beach

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 2021 while investigation of other potential sand sources continues.

More information