Truckloads of sand to make Picton foreshore look its 'absolute best'

Picton Smart and Connected deputy chairwoman Jill Evans on the beach at the Picton foreshore.

Picton Smart and Connected deputy chairwoman Jill Evans on the beach at the Picton foreshore.

Sand is in such short supply in India that criminal enterprises, known as 'sand mafias', have been set up as illegal suppliers.

In Marlborough, there are no such problems.

Every two years, the beach at the Picton foreshore gets topped up using a blend of pebbly, golden sand taken from the Ohinemahuta River, formerly known as the Onamalutu.

This year the council is spending $19,000 to take 100 cubic metres from the river and have a contractor spread it out at the Picton and Waikawa foreshores.

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But worldwide, sourcing sand is becoming a problem, one spelled out in a New Yorker article called 'The World is Running out of Sand' published in May.

Looking for sea shells at the water's edge on Picton Foreshore. (File photo)

Looking for sea shells at the water's edge on Picton Foreshore. (File photo)

A United Nations report cited in the article concludes the mining of sand and gravel greatly exceeds renewal rates, driven by rapid economic growth in Asia.

Last May, a director of a UN environmental group claimed in the previous four years China had consumed more sand than the United States had in the past century.

And in India, "commercially useful sand is now so scarce that markets for it are dominated by 'sand mafias'", the article said.

Crafar and Crouch managing director Norm Crafar said the company had been supplying the council with material for the Picton foreshore for the past 20 years.

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Although pebbles, not sand, might be the more appropriate term given the material extracted from the Ohinemahuta River was about 10 to 12 millimetres in diameter.

Crafar estimated it would take eight truck and trailer units to shift the 100 cubic metres needed this year, which would be put on the two foreshores around November.

Picton Smart and Connected deputy chairwoman Jill Evans said the sand at the foreshore was eroded by storms and currents, and she fully supported topping it up.

"It adds to the whole small-town, beachside look," she said.

"The foreshore in Picton is a very special reserve, one that Picton people are very proud of, and they like to see it looking its absolute best."

Evans said with the rise in the number of cruise ships visiting the port, the council should consider replacing the sand yearly instead of every two years.

"There's a lot of people on hot summer's days that go down to that area to enjoy the sun and have a swim, and it looks great." 

She had not realised the sand came from the Ohinemahuta River, but said it was good it was sourced locally.

 - The Marlborough Express


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