Some believe it may not be the best option, but Warrnambool City Council has backed the cheaper plan to dump dredged sand from Lady Bay slightly offshore anyway in the hope it will secure a 10-year funding deal.
It was a case of "damned if we do, damned if we don't", according to councillor Sue Cassidy when it came to the best course of action for the long overdue dredging.
And with time running out before the councillors enter caretaker mode in the lead up to the October election, Cr Cassidy said they needed to resolve the issue to avoid even further delays.
The option of dumping sand just offshore was expected to cost $2.2 million - less than half the cost of putting sand in the dunes next to the pavilion cafe - and was touted as the most likely option to secure a long-term funding commitment from the state government.
Cr Cassidy said there was little option but to make a decision that would get the dredging done "sooner rather than later".
"We must all remember that the main objective was the dredging and getting the funding for that. Where council puts the sand can always be revisited at a later date. Let's just try and get some funding," she said.
Mayor Tony Herbert said that if the option to dump sand just offshore proved ineffective, there was "fairly strong reassurance" from the Department of Environment Land Water Planning that it would look at other options.
But the plan to dump the dredging spoils near the shore sparked concerns from Cr David Owen who said creating a sandbar out the front of the caravan park during summer could mean lifesavers might have to set up other patrols just in case people decided to "take off on these shallow drops".
Cr Owen also said he believed they would have trouble getting any funding because Warrnambool was not a marginal seat and just a small city with 250 boats.
Cr Robert Anderson said if "we are going to sit back and argue among ourselves" then we're "not going to get anything done at all".
"We need to move on," he said.
"Mother nature has a fair bearing in everything and whether she likes it or not we won't know until it's done.
"We need the dredging done more regularly and I think that's the secret of what's happening in the Lady Bay."
Cr Peter Sycopoulis said he was not convinced that the option being touted was the best one, and acknowledged that many on the council's harbour reference group were opposed to it.
However, he said one of the council's issues was it was reliant on getting approval from DELWP who favoured a "softly, softly" and "value for money" approach.
"But for me value for money is a successful dredging plan, it's not value for money if it doesn't work," Cr Sycopoulis said.
He said it left the council in a precarious position because they were more likely to get funding if they took the least dramatic option.
Cr Sycopoulis said he would agree to it on the proviso if it was not successful the state government would move to another option.
Cr Mike Neoh said it looked like council had come full circle.
He said about a decade ago it was mentioned that no matter what man-made structures were put in the water, unless there was dredging it was not going to be able to tame nature.
Cr Neoh said there may not be a perfect solution or consensus.
"We can't control what nature will do. We're getting more extreme storms, flooding," he said.
"I think if people are looking for a perfect solution they will never get one."
Cr Kylie Gaston said it was a "wicked problem" but the option they were being asked to endorse seemed to be based on science, pragmatism and the need for dredging.
"At least it's a way forward," she said.
Councillors unanimously backed a plan to seek funds for near shore dredging.
Our COVID-19 news articles relating to public health and safety are free for anyone to access. However, we depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.