Protective spit needs repair

Damage control . . . Waikouaiti Coast Community Board chairman Alasdair Morrison in front of the retreating Karitane spit, which he says needs repairs before winter. PHOTO: ELLA STOKES

Work is needed on the Karitane spit to prevent serious damage to the foreshore, the Waikouaiti Coast Community Board chairman says.

The spit is a sandbar which separates the Karitane inlet from the Pacific Ocean.

It prevents stormy seas entering the inlet and damaging the sea wall.

Board chairman Alasdair Morrison said a storm in 2001 significantly washed away the spit, resulting in damage to the foreshore and sea wall.

Remedial work was done by putting posts and netting in the spit to help trap sand and mitigate erosion.

For a while this had been successful, but “Mother Nature has done its thing” and in January the spit was overtopped again, Mr Morrison said.

He was worried if the spit remained the way it was, a storm during winter could cause expensive unbudgeted damage.

“No-one is to blame for this. It’s just the processes of Mother Nature and we need to work on it to prevent something happening,” Mr Morrison said.

The Dunedin City Council is looking into investing in re-developing the spit.

DCC coastal specialist and geomorphologist Tom Simons-Smith is investigating ways to fix the eroding spit and said it was not uncommon to see something like this.

“Increased storms and climate change are putting more and more pressure on sand traps that protect sea walls,” Mr Simons-Smith said.

He said it was likely that it would have to be a very large storm to cause damage.

The process from now would be to investigate ways to increase sand build-up on the spit, as well as looking into ways vegetation could be used to help avoid erosion.

Mr Simons-Smith said although he was aware the community wanted to see work starting to happen soon, he had to investigate the best options, as well as getting resource consent.