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Wollongong City Council

Port Kembla’s sands to be shifted

Thursday 12 December 2019

Work to clear Port Kembla Pool’s intake pipe have continued with Council given State Government permission to bring machinery onto the beach to carry out the work.

The pool has been closed since the end of November due to sand covering the intake pipe, meaning the pool couldn’t be flushed out and fresh seawater couldn’t be drawn into the pool.

Given the intake pipe’s location within a sensitive marine environment, Council needed to complete a Review of Environmental Factors and to seek approval from the NSW Department of Primary Industries before we could carry out work.

We have been onsite on both Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with a significant amount of sand moved from around the blocked intake pipe yesterday. This work will continued today.

“We know Port Kembla Pool is a special and highly valued place and the community wants to see it open and functioning once again,’’ Wollongong City Council’s Infrastructure and Works Director Andrew Carfield said.

“We are working to make this happen while also managing the sensitive and dynamic marine environment that the intake pipe is located in.

“We know the challenge we’re facing with sand accumulation at the northern end of the beach will likely mean that additional works may also be needed to keep the pool open across the summer season.’’

The high volume of sand on Port Kembla Beach, along with other beaches across the region, is due to the combination of calm sea conditions over the past three years and a predominant pattern of south easterly waves which transport sand in a northerly direction. This relatively calm period has seen greater sand accumulation at the northern ends of our beaches rather than being periodically eroded under more stormy conditions. This is a natural process and is due to a prolonged period of stable weather without major storms and associated sea conditions.

While we have been unable to draw in fresh seawater the pool has remained closed. Once the intake pipe is cleared at low tide, the pool will be emptied, cleaned and then, at high tide, refilled with fresh water. While it has been closed, the pool has remained filled with water to protect its shell lining.

“As the movement of sand is a natural, and unpredictable, process we’ve not only sought permission to move the sand in this instance but to be able to return to the beach in the future and move the sand from the intake pipe, if necessary,’’ Mr Carfield said.

“The Review of Environmental Factors sets out some parameters as to how, and where, we move the sand and to where we can place it. We will work within these parameters to ensure not only that we’re able to reopen this popular pool, but that we care for the sensitive marine location.’’

Once the intake pipe has been cleared, the pool will be emptied, cleaned and refilled. This process is tide-dependent and may take a few days.