Evans Main Beach ‘ruined’ by dredging
IMAGINE a beach filled with colourful umbrellas, children building sandcastles, people swimming, surfing, and enjoying a holiday by the sea.
Chamber of commerce member Trevor Mallet believes the popular Main Beach at Evans Head has been ruined since a dredging company removed sand from the river and dumped it on the beach.
"We have lost our beautiful, pristine beach - one of the best on the east coast of Australia," Mr Mallet said. "It has forced people to go to Shark Bay or Chinamans Beach."
Both beaches are unpatrolled.
"Tourists and locals are complaining about the oyster shells and sharps cutting their feet," Mr Mallet said.
The problem began in August last year when the National Dredging Company dredged the river and the sand was dumped on Main Beach. Trouble was, the load was filled with sharp oyster shells.
River averts 'catastrophe'
Adrian Easdown runs the North Coast Holiday Park and Main Beach is the closest beach.
"We have to recommend the river now," Mr Easdown said.
"If we didn't have that it would be a catastrophe."
Chris Myers moved to Evans Head nine months ago.
"I'm only a recent resident and I'm aghast as much as the rest of the community," Mr Myers said.
"A perfectly good beach is ruined."
Mr Mallet said the chamber of commerce was working closely with Richmond Valley Council to find a solution.
"The council have done everything possible to rectify the problem. They are continually sifting the sand pumped from the river," he said.
"We are assured that the costs of the measures already taken by the council have been passed on and it is not costing the ratepayers."
Dave Hopper from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries said the department consulted coastal experts about where to place sand from the river.
"Oyster shell is unforeseen - it doesn't happen often," Mr Hopper said.
Seven years ago the river was dredged and the sand was dumped in the river outside the caravan park, he said.
Sand cleaning done weekly
The sand last year was put on Main Beach because it is an erosion hotpot, Mr Hopper said.
"In 2012, the beach was washed away. We put sand there as a buffer," he said.
The DPI has "an arrangement with the council to clean the shells and sand".
Council manager Vaughan Macdonald said all costs in regards to cleaning the beach were covered by the DPI Lands Department.
"We have a machine towed by a tractor that cleans the sand. We do this on a weekly basis," Mr Macdonald said.
"In January we did a contamination test and it showed there was debris in the sand but no chemical contamination."
Fears for kids on sand bank
After the weekend storm, Mr Hopper said he didn't expect much of the sand bank to remain but the heavy rainfall and high tide have carved an even steeper sandbank along the beach.
The bank itself raises further concerns for Mr Mallet.
"The height of the sand is dangerous and if children dig into the bank it could collapse and cause a tragedy," he said.
Chamber members are concerned about the beach being tourist-ready for the holidays.