What's Noosa without a beach?

Slurry Marine Systems managing director Lex Nankervis says it’s what goes on under the sand that makes the system work.
Slurry Marine Systems managing director Lex Nankervis says it’s what goes on under the sand that makes the system work. Geoff Potter

SAND recycling innovator Lex Nankervis reckons Noosa is different from most other centres where he has worked because the residents decided they could not afford to be without a sandy beach.

His company, Slurry Marine Systems, has worked at Portland, Lakes Entrance and Adelaide beaches, but he sees the Noosa Spit operation as a one-off for one vital reason.

"This is probably the only beach in Australia where people can afford to actually pump sand to put on it," Mr Nankervis said.

"Every other beach the sand goes and you've got to live with it - whereas here they said, 'No, we can build this beach'."

All the bugs have been ironed out of the system and the work crew has overcome the forces of nature that wrecked the installation efforts during the Christmas period, with a second pump unit installed last Tuesday and commissioned on Thursday.

"The system pumps water from the river mouth, feeds it to two pumps in the main, permanent plant room," he said.

"The bigger of the two pumps is high-pressure and sends the water down to our pump under the sand out the front.

"That brings the sand into the sump there and a slurry pump then grabs that material and pumps it through the flood line running overhead and sends that out onto the beach."

Mr Nankervis used to be a navy diver, who eventually surfaced in business with his father-in-law, an engineer who helps transport by pumping slurry and tailings at mine sites.

"We read a report years ago when Noosa was first looking at putting in offshore groynes (and submerged artificial reefs made of geotextile bags). We'd seen that it had been just knocked on the head," he said.

"That's when we put in a proposal.

"Basically we pump sand at mine sites and beaches. We looked at the problem here and said we can do the same here.

"The council said, 'We don't believe you', but we said, 'It's our risk. It's our money, our equipment. Give us a six-month trial and we'll prove it to you'."

He said there were now 3000 cubic tonnes of material "out there at any one time just waiting to go to wherever it is needed".

Topics:  beach, recycling, residents

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