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Dunedin City Council – Kaunihera-a-rohe o Otepoti

In May 2013 the city was subjected to successive storms from the south west on top of already high perigean tides. This resulted in some significant seas with the St Clair sea wall consequently absorbing some tremendous energy.

The erosion of backfill from behind the St Clair Esplanade sea wall caused significant damage to the promenade around the St Clair Surf Club and weakened the sea wall itself. The successive storms also resulted in a general loss of sand along the whole beach with certain areas losing up to 1.5m over just a few days.

The most noticeable impact to the sea wall was at the St Clair surf lifesaving boat ramp at the eastern end of the wall where the toe of the wall was scoured out causing a significant loss of material from behind the sea wall structure, taking away all support for the promenade pavers.

The initial response

Once the scale of the damage was realised, public access to the eastern end of the promenade was restricted until an assessment could be made. Emergency work started immediately following the assessment by primarily shielding the toe of the sea wall.

Stopping the back fill loss was achieved by deepening the footing of the sea wall structure with sheet piling along a 60m stretch of beach frontage. A concrete plug was also placed between the wall panels and the new piling to provide additional support. A significant quantity of large rock was also placed along this stretch as extra toe protection.

This initial emergency work was carried out at a cost of approximately $500,000.

Since the initial emergency work, a further $80,000 has been spent reinstating public access to the area by construction of a temporary access ramp at the eastern end of the sea wall and $100,000 was spent on reinstatement of the Promenade paving and some additional rock protection work.

An interim risk management plan has also been developed.

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