RESIDENTS of Inverloch haven’t hit the ‘panic’ button yet at the rapid pace of erosion along the town’s surf beach.
But as heavy swell threatened to break through Cape-Paterson Inverloch Road at the weekend, surging to within a few metres of the surf lifesaving club, maybe they should.
Several influential local residents, who took their concerns to the Bass Coast Shire Council at question time earlier this month, say it’s time to take the matter directly to the Minister, calling for $3 to $4 million for a rock wall extending from Flat Rocks to Point Norman, the whole length of the town’s famed surf beach.
It’s a lot of money but they say $180 million worth of housing, plus key infrastructure is at risk.
“This is an absolute emergency. If you look at the pace of erosion over the past couple of years, we haven’t got until March or April next year for them to get the sandbags or to go through another study process,” said former South Gippsland Shire Council engineer Keith Godridge.
“It’s not only the road and the surf club that’s at risk. You’ve got $180 million worth of housing in the firing line if the sea breaks through here,” he said standing on the thin dune system behind the surf club.
“The South Gippsland Shire Council has used rock effectively at Walkerville North to protect the road and carpark there. And it’s fortunate we’ve got all the rock we need, only 25km away at Leongatha South ready to go.
“What’s an investment of $3 to $4 million in rock if you’re talking about securing $180 million worth of housing?
“It’s a no-brainer,” according to Mr Godridge and only needs a short period of planning.
“Because they were gearing up for the neighbouring rock project at Walkerville, they’ve got the rock there ready to go,” he said.
“And it’s not just the houses,” said former local real estate agent, Robin Bowman, another of those who attended the council meeting recently looking for urgent action.
“You’ve got the town’s main sewerage pumping station located at the end of Surf Parade. If the sea breaks through there, no one in Inverloch will be flushing their toilets.”
The two men were among several who asked questions at the Bass Coast Council meeting, trying to inject a sense of urgency and common sense into the response to Inverloch’s coastal erosion emergency.
And they’ve rejected the announcement by the State Government and local MP Jordan Crugnale as short-term thinking.
“It’s not $1.15 million for erosion measures. Only $450,000 of that will be spent on bags, to be placed in front of the surf club but what about the road and the rest of the foreshore?
“Rock is the way to go,” Mr Godridge said this week.
See also Jordan Crugnale’s response this edition.
You can see the Bass Coast Shire Council’s response to the questions by Mr Godridge, Mr Bowman and others on the council’s website, go to the council meeting agenda section.
Keith Godridge asked: Is Council aware that at the present average rate of erosion of the Inverloch Surf Beach of 12 metres/year that the Lifesaving Clubhouse will be lost within 12 months, Surf Parade will be threatened in under three years and that the severe erosion of the Inverloch Surf beach extends for a total length in excess of 2000 metres?
Robin Bowman: asked. “Is it still intended to install the vertical timber pickets to both rows of piles at the wet sand fencing in front of the Inverloch Surf Lifesaving Clubhouse and at the Bunurong Road site and if yes, will they be new pickets or will they be pickets salvaged from the original failed installation? Will Council advise the community as to what considerations (including all environmental and safety risk assessments) have been given to the potential safety hazards introduced to beach users by the wet sand fencing trials including the risks introduced by exposure to treated timbers?
These and other questions can be revisited at a Community Drop-In Session at the Inverloch Community Hub on Saturday, November 9 between 10am and 1pm.