AT LEAST a million dollars will be spent shoring up the Rainbow Beach bathing reserve and Tin Can Bay foreshore against severe erosion, if a council plan is realised.
Gympie Regional Council has already spent two years and tens of thousands of dollars studying erosion potential at the two popular sites and liaising with the Department of Environment and Resource Management, but is still not guaranteed approval for the project.
It expects to spend at least another two years and $30,000 getting DERM approval to install large enviro sandbags for a distance of 260m from the beach vehicle ramp in front of the lifesaver tower and across the top of the swimming reserve, and along 360m of the Bay foreshore from Cod St to Oyster Pde.
The Rainbow Beach job will cost more than $391,500 and the Tin Can Bay job more than $531,500.
Fears of a significant weather event escalating the rate of erosion and damaging the council's assets, including the new $353,000 amenities block at Rainbow Beach, have prompted the move.
A $33,000 geomorphological study into both areas concluded that, based on the erosion at Rainbow Beach between 1972 and the present, the risk of severe erosion was "very low".
In Tin Can Bay, it would take about 75 years for the erosion scarp to reach the water main at Cod St, 80 years to reach the edge of the pavement on the Esplanade midway between Cod St and Oyster Pde, and three years to endanger the concrete pathway, the report concluded.
But works and services committee chairman Larry Frisk said he didn't think the council "had 80 years to play with down there".
"You get one good storm and it will reach the bitumen in one year," he said.
"There is a section through there where it has eroded in the past," he said. "In the last 50 years fill has been used to reclaim that area, but it's gradually being eaten away again. By putting the bags in there and re-grassing it we will put the Esplanade back to the same distance from the bitumen it is up front."
Cr Friske said the bags were environmentally friendly, people could walk over them and grass could grow on them until they just appeared to be part of the natural landscape.
"If we get the approvals in place we may get a grant or the council might suddenly get rich and we can slip in and do this," Cr Friske said.