Delivering external sand to West Beach

Frequently asked questions

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 Securing the Future of Our Coast project is looking to source 500,000 cubic metres of external sand to replenish West Beach.  

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. 

When will the external sand be delivered? Why can’t it be brought in now?

There is a limited amount of sand in Adelaide’s beach system and to find a suitable external sand source for the large scale beach replenishment will take time. We investigating offshore sand deposits as well as land-based sources (quarries).

These investigations and other planning and approvals are required before the external sand can be delivered.

The large scale replenishment using sand from an external source is planned to be delivered in 2021–22. View the project timeline.

Where will the ‘external’ sand come from? What investigations are being done?

Preliminary investigations are currently underway to find a suitable sand source from outside of Adelaide’s beach system (external sand) for a large scale beach replenishment needed for West Beach.

We are investigating offshore sand deposits as well as land-based sources (quarries). 

No decision has yet been made on where the sand will come from.

Preliminary investigations include mapping habitat zones and determining the nature and extent of offshore sand deposits. This is just the first step in the process of determining whether there is sand available that would be an economically and environmentally sustainable option for the replenishment of Adelaide’s metropolitan beaches. 

These investigations and other planning and approvals are required before the external sand can be delivered. 

quarry-sand-inspection

Sand from quarries is being trialed at West Beach

Can any type of sand go onto the beach?

No, the sand we are looking for both 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.

We will collect samples from different quarries, and from offshore deposits, and test them in a laboratory to find the most suitable sand for West Beach.

These investigations and other planning and approvals are required before the external sand is delivered.

More information