By Natalie O’Driscoll
City of Gold Coast is developing a plan for managing coastal hazards into the future, and is currently seeking community feedback.
The unique and precious coastal environment enjoyed by residents and visitors to the Gold Coast is our city’s most valuable natural asset. Our waterways and pristine beaches are not only the defining characteristic of our iconic city, they are home to delicate and dynamic ecosystems which need to be regularly assessed and protected from the increasing incidence of coastal hazards.
The Gold Coast experiences a number of coastal hazards, with the main ones being increased coastal erosion, storm tides and flooding. These impacts are likely to increase in significance in the future, with projections indicating more frequent and intense cyclone activity tracking south, and a potential sea level rise of 0.8m by 2100.
The State Government has awarded 41 Queensland councils, including City of Gold Coast, a share in $12 million of funding from their Coastal Hazards Adaptation program (QCoast2100) in order to develop effective plans to minimise the impacts of coastal hazards.
The City of Gold Coast is prioritising the future resilience of our valued built and environmental assets by developing Our resilient city – our plan for coastal adaptation, a high-level technical background plan which builds on the City’s existing coast management efforts, utilising the best science, engineering and economic studies.
The Griffith University Centre for Coastal Management (GCCM) is assisting the City of Gold Coast with its QCoast2100 program, specifically with regard to developing the Minimum Standards and Guidelines for funding requirements, and setting up the Expert Review Panel.
Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow Dr Johanna Nalau is an established and respected advisor in global climate change adaptation with the School of Environment and Science, and Cities Research Institute at Griffith University. She explains how Our Resilient City – Our plan for coastal adaptation builds on the City’s successful, existing coastal management efforts outlined in the Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013 – 2023.
“The City is already implementing extensive strategies through its Oceans Beaches Strategy to minimise these coastal hazards and has always invested heavily in making sure that our coastal areas continue to thrive,” she says.
“Our Resilient City - Our plan for coastal adaptation is really about safeguarding the city from future risks. We have wonderful beaches and waterways and these are some of the key reasons people want to live on the Gold Coast. The QCoast2100 program and the city-wide strategy are part of making sure that we have plans in place for future environmental change and can continue to enjoy the lifestyles that we hold dear.”
These strategies include strengthening the dune environments by planting native species, sand pumping in critical areas to enable more even spread of sand across our beaches, putting in operational strategies for disaster risk management and accessing multiple data to monitor changes.
The City of Gold Coast is consulting with key stakeholders, asset owners, key agencies and the community on its coastal hazards adaptation plan, with a view to better understanding coastal hazards and responding with cost-effective adaptation options.
The solution may maintain or modify an existing approach in the areas of land use planning and development assessment, infrastructure planning and management, asset management, community planning, business continuity planning, and emergency management.
“This consultation provides a key opportunity for all residents to have their say in what they see as key issues in planning for coastal resilience,” says Dr Nalau.
Consultation is open until 23 September 2020, with residents invited to learn more and provide feedback on what they value and how we should plan for coastal resilience.
Most coastal hazards can be grouped into five main impacts, usually with several contributing processes causing an event or cumulative harm:
- Coastal erosion and shoreline stability (including river mouths, tidal inlets and cliffs) from waves, storm tide, changes in sediment budgets, river floods, coastal structures, stormwater and sea-level rise;
- Coastal flooding from storm tide, wave overtopping, river floods, tsunami and sea-level rise;
- Elevated groundwater levels in coastal plains from storm tide, intense rainfall, sea-level rise, and salinisation;
- Recreational activities with hazards arising from surf zone conditions (e.g.rips, wave conditions, long-wave surges);
- Maritime activities with navigation hazards arising from wave/swell conditions, storm tide, strong winds, low tides, long-wave surges and tsunami.