Council presents update on Lake Innes and Lake Cathie estuary

Low water level: Water dwindles in Lake Cathie near the Kenwood Drive bridge.
Low water level: Water dwindles in Lake Cathie near the Kenwood Drive bridge.

Environmental studies are needed as the process continues towards addressing the crisis facing the Lake Cathie and Lake Innes estuary.

The estuary system management is complex and the responsibility of a number of stakeholders.

A report to Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's October 16 meeting outlined progress to date.

The report said council staff held three meetings with the key government agencies involved in the estuary system's management and council staff also met with key community stakeholders.

Council staff and government agencies have agreed on a way forward.

That revolves around the NSW government's Coastal Management Program (CMP) framework which the council is obliged to complete to manage coast and estuary matters and receive funding for projects.

Initial background studies, with a total estimated cost of $295,000, are needed.

The council asked the general manager to seek 50 per cent Coastal Management Program funding to undertake the initial background studies for input to the Lake Innes/Lake Cathie Coastal Management Program.

Acting mayor Lisa Intemann said the council had its 50 per cent contribution in hand.

"I think we have taken huge strides forward in getting all the stakeholders together," she said about progress to date.

Cr Intemann said she was hopeful, given the right resourcing, they could get a good outcome.

"But it will not be as fast as any of us want - there are processes that have to be followed," she said.

Cr Intemann applauded Revive Lake Cathie members for their interest and commitment.

The group was formed in a bid to make the authorities act to restore the health of the ailing waterway.

Dr Deb Geronimi spoke on behalf of Revive Lake Cathie about emergency action required.

She said the water level in the lake had dropped severely in the past six months and the salinity level was extreme.

"From a scientific perspective to help to keep the lake ecosystem from deteriorating further, we are asking for immediate action to grade the sand at the lake/ocean interface to allow a small amount of clean oceanic water to enter the estuarine ecosystem during high tides," Dr Geronimi said.

She said a long-term solution was required to address the many issues with both Lake Innes and Lake Cathie.

But in the short term, Dr Geronimi said Revive Lake Cathie was asking for sand to be graded to allow some clean oceanic water to enter the lake at high tide to help preserve what life was left in the lake and to prevent the acid sulphate sediments from causing more of an impact.

"If we do nothing right now the situation is only going to get worse," she said.

Revive Lake Cathie board member Kate Aston also addressed the meeting.

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