Towradgi Rock Pool Update – Wollongong

As locals know only too well, sand movement has been a major challenge at Towradgi Rock Pool over the past 12 months.

We’ve seen lots of images of the pools filled to the brim with sand – or completely covered over – and our specialised rock pool crew have needed to use heavy machinery three times in the past year to empty out the pools.

Right now, we’re preparing to empty and clean out Towradgi Rock Pool once again as soon as the current swell conditions permit.

However, we’re making changes about how we go about the work to better address the ongoing challenge of the natural coastal processes which has seen large volumes of sand remain on our beaches.

Before we do any work in a sensitive environment, we do a Review of Environmental Factors (REF). Broadly speaking, a REF steps through the potential environmental impact of any works and provides site-specific guidelines on how to reduce impacts to waterways, cultural and historic heritage and plants and animals. An REF also ensures we meet a range of legislative requirements and procedures.

For this location, we needed to consider how we will protect native plants and animals at the beach, how we mitigate risk to the sensitive marine environment when bringing heavy machinery onto the beach, how we consider the heritage of the area, and how we manage our community assets including caring for the pool shell and the concourse.

This year, we’ve proactively updated the REF for the cleaning of Towradgi Rock Pool. The updated REF means we now have an alternative location north of the pools to place the sand, and we can use heavier machinery to do the job.

“The REF is important to our work as it provides us a complete picture of what needs to be managed in this space to allow us to do what we need to do, while protecting the local environment and its features,” Wollongong City Council Director Infrastructure and Works Director Joanne Page said.

“It also provides strict guidelines and approvals on how we can do our work. In this case we wanted to proactively review the existing REF for Towradgi Rock Pool because the existing one was limiting us in terms of what machinery we could use for the works, and where we could place sand that was removed from the pool.

“As a result of our assessment work we’re now able to place the sand to the north of the pool which, it’s hoped, will reduce the risk of it re-entering the pool as quickly. We can also use larger machinery.

“We’re optimistic that this will allow us to clean the pool more quickly and reduce the speed at which the sand will return to the pool.”

With an updated REF in place, Council has equipment on standby ready clean the pool once the swell conditions calm.

“We need the right combination of low tides, seas and swell during daylight hours to be able to effectively clean out the rock pools,” Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said.

“After a brief pause where the crews were diverted to other clean up works following the 6 April Natural Disaster in the city, the team are back on the foreshores cleaning the popular pools.

“I know it’ll come as welcome news to the locals who use Towradgi Rock Pool that we’re working to empty it of sand as soon as possible.”

On average, it takes between four and six hours to clean one of the city’s nine rock pools. The process involves draining the pool, emptying it of sand and any other debris, giving it a high-pressure clean, checking for any damage and then re-filling the pool. Given the complexity of the upcoming job at Towradgi, it’s likely to take longer.

Depending on the pool, some will need to be re-filled using pumped water, while others fill naturally at high tide.

“We know our rock pools hold a special place in the hearts of many in our community and we’re committed to their ongoing care and maintenance,” Cr Bradbery said.

“That said, these pools are in locations that requires us to be flexible in what we do and how we do it. We’re also very much at the mercy of the prevailing weather conditions that are seeing larger volumes of sand on many of our beaches than we have seen for some time.

“It’s promising that we’ve a new methodology for cleaning Towradgi Rock Pool and I, like many, hope that the updates to how we’re permitted to clean the pool will be an improvement. It is tricky but hopefully working with mother nature will pay off in the long run.”

/Public Release. View in full here.