An innovative sand pumping initiative between the eThekwini Municipality and Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has successfully reinstated sand along eroded sections of Durban’s popular Golden Mile.

Portions of North Beach, Dairy Beach, Country Club and Battery Beach were closed to the public from 20 April 2018 to allow the sand pumping operations to take place over approximately four weeks.

To date North Beach has been completed with approximately 74 000 m3 of sand replenished in this area. As at mid-May a total of 194 000 m3 of sand was dredged across the initial beaches – and locals have already noticed the difference.

Dairy Beach commenced on 10 May and is expected to be completed by 17 May. Thereafter sand will be provided to the Suncoast area.

Ensuring ports are safe for navigation

Carl Gabriel, Executive Manager for Dredging Services at TNPA, says their top priority as the port authority is to ensure that the entrance channels, basins and berths at our commercial ports are safe for navigation.

“This is achieved through regular maintenance dredging in which our dredging fleet is shared across our ports according to a national dredger deployment plan that ensures our equipment does not sit idle,” he adds.

Gabriel explains that the TNPA’s beach nourishment agreement with the eThekwini Municipality requires them to provide a minimum of 250 000 cubic metres of sand a year to reinstate the city’s beaches situated north of the channel mouth, due to the natural migration of sand along the coast.”

“This current project is of high importance to us as it proves that the dredger is able to nourish the beaches from the sea-side. This opens the possibility of providing the same service to nourish beaches even further North such as Umhlanga and Umdloti.

How does the dredging work?

The project entails deploying one of TNPA’s dredging vessels, the Ilembe, out at sea.  Sand is then collected by the dredger during TNPA’s usual harbour dredging operations from the ‘sand trap’ and then discharged directly onto the beach via a floating under-sea pipeline.

Private contractors appointed by the Municipality, Subtech and Katlantic, are responsible for managing the positioning of the pipeline as well as the shore side managing of the sand, under the guidance of an expert from Royal IHC, the Netherlands company which built the Ilembe vessel.

This method of sand replenishment – in use globally but not to date on South African beaches – has provided direct nourishment to affected areas of the Durban beachfront in a fast, productive and cost-effective manner.