Bad news beach rejects sand transfusions, starts swallowing concrete block wall video

Kevin Stent/Fairfax NZ

Repairs began on the eroding Kapiti coastline after a weekend of bad weather in 2016.

First they tried costly sand transfusions to shore it up.

Now a bad-news beach on the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington is slowly swallowing the $98,000 emergency wall built to hold back the tide.

Work for a temporary fix will cost $220,000 but the district's mayor warns they need "breathing space" for a problem that might have no permanent solution.

Leaning blocks on the wall along a section of Paraparaumu Beach.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Leaning blocks on the wall along a section of Paraparaumu Beach.

Last year Kapiti Coast District Council was accused of flushing ratepayer cash after it spent more than $123,000 stacking 7000 cubic metres of sand on Paraparaumu Beach to protect a sandbank.

READ MORE: Costly sand top-ups wash away

Within weeks of each delivery of sand, it had all washed away again.

The safety barrier at the top of the concrete block wall at Paraparaumu Beach, near Wharemauku Rd.
JOEL MAXWELL/FAIRFAX NZ

The safety barrier at the top of the concrete block wall at Paraparaumu Beach, near Wharemauku Rd.

The last truckloads washed away in July storms, which threatened council sewer pipes under residential properties on nearby Wharemauku Rd.

Now the council needs to "reinstate" the wall – built for $97,740 under urgency to protect the pipes after sections of the structure took on a lean.

Infrastructure services group manager Sean Mallon said nothing was wrong with the wall – the blocks had "just tilted from their original alignment". The 170 metre wall remained "functionally competent", he said.

Blocks on a temporary concrete wall along a section of Paraparaumu Beach are getting that sinking feeling.
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Blocks on a temporary concrete wall along a section of Paraparaumu Beach are getting that sinking feeling.

Mallon said the council would push ahead with $220,000 of work which "involves re-instating the wall on an incline and strengthening it with rock".

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In February the council installed barriers and signs "alerting the public to the potential instability of the concrete blocks and restricting access along the reserve area behind the wall".

Mallon said the wall was built to last between one to five years depending on sea and weather conditions. While still functioning, the wall had tilted after about seven months.

Meant to last up to five years, but now developing a suspicious lean, a temporary concrete block wall at Paraparaumu ...
CAMERON BURNELL/FAIRFAX NZ

Meant to last up to five years, but now developing a suspicious lean, a temporary concrete block wall at Paraparaumu Beach built by Kapiti Coast District Council to protect the shoreline.

The work allowed time for the council to "design, gain resource consent for and finance a more permanent solution," he said.

"This may involve relocating sewer pipes or installing an alternative seawall."

Paraparaumu Beach resident, and former community board member, Dale Evans said it was a waste of ratepayers' money.

The view last year south along Paraparaumu Beach toward the embankment built up with sand trucked in by Kapiti Coast ...
JOEL MAXWELL/FAIRFAX NZ

The view last year south along Paraparaumu Beach toward the embankment built up with sand trucked in by Kapiti Coast District Council. After storms, the concrete block wall was built.

"Whatever you put down on the beachfront is going to sink, or the tide's going to take it away ... it will be money going down the drain."

The council needed a permanent fix such as "groynes" – walls running out across the sand at the north and south ends of Paraparaumu's beach, he said.

Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan​ said there was "no permanent fix" in the area if people accepted sea level rises from climate change.

The five-year wall would give the council "breathing space" as it grappled with everything from private property rights, council infrastructure protection and private sea walls peppered with public accessways.

"We are only looking at the short to medium term solutions while the government, regional council and everybody else starts working on what we're going to do."

Today's backyard retaining walls on coastal private property could become tomorrow's sea walls – which would then need consent, Gurunathan said.

"It's a tragicomedy that's unfolding."

A Greater Wellington Regional Council spokeswoman said it had not yet received an application for consent for the work reinstating and strengthening the wall.

 - Stuff

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