The independent study will analyse 20 years of data to better understand what is causing the rapid erosion and what can be done to safeguard the popular stretch of beach into the future.
Coastal modelling consultancy BMT WBM will undertake the review, which will incorporate contemporary knowledge, highlight information gaps and recommend long-term management strategies.
The review will also incorporate contemporary knowledge, highlight gaps in knowledge and data, and recommend sustainable options for long- and short-term sand management.
DELWP Greg Leece said Lonsdale Bight, also known as Pt Lonsdale front beach, had long felt the effects of sand movement from storm and tidal surges due to its location in one of the most dynamic areas of Victoria’s coastline.
“The depletion and reappearance of sand was first observed and recorded in the late 19th century and has since been a frequent phenomenon, despite continual investment to retain sand at the site,” said Greg Leece, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Parks (DELWP) Barwon South West region Land Planning and Approvals Regional Manager.
“As part of the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park, Lonsdale Bight has significant environmental value. The area is also the backdrop to many social and recreational activities and events, and we share the community’s disappointment when events such as surfing and ocean swimming competitions have to be relocated because the beach has disappeared.
“The lack of sand also exposes the masonry seawall, which is critical to protecting the Pt Lonsdale township, to erosion from storm surges, resulting in costly emergency repair work.
“It’s clear that measures to retain sand over the past have had limited success, and we need to improve our understanding of the area before we consider further investment,” Mr Leece said.
“This report will consolidate existing knowledge of the environmental factors causing sand movement at Lonsdale Bight and ensure decisions on the future management of this area are underpinned by the best available science.”
Concerns over erosion have gathered pace in recent months. Freshly exposed rocks have prompted safety concerns, resulting in the cancellation of a junior surf carnival earlier this year.
Organisers of last Summer’s Rip View Swim were also forced to take extra precautions to protect swimmers.
“We are keenly aware of the strong public interest in this issue and we will be presenting the report findings to the community. We remain committed to involving the community in the development of any proposed actions to manage sand at this popular beach,” Mr Leece said.
A final report is due later this year