THE Lake Cathie community is asked to be patient as Port Macquarie-Hastings Council works through the steps towards replacing or augmenting the Kenwood Drive bridge.
Any planned works on the bridge to improve the health of the lake and estuarine environment must align with long-term coastal management strategies in order to be eligible for state government funding assistance for the project.
The results of the testing of a hydro-dynamic model, completed in 2011, will determine the impacts of any potential changes to the lake system as a result of works on the bridge. Those impacts will also determine the most appropriate bridge design and the options available to council before it proceeds with any work.
Those results will feed into council's Coastal Management Plan (CMP) scoping study which is currently underway.
The priority for council will be to ensure all the boxes are ticked.
Mayor Peta Pinson successfully moved at the October meeting that a project plan and indicative costings for the replacement or augmentation of Kenwood Drive bridge be considered in council's 2021-2022 operational plan and future draft delivery program. She also moved that funding opportunities are sought on the completion of the CMP scoping study and a review of the hydrodynamic modelling.
"We are starting," Cr Pinson reassured the community who has long fought for a collaborative approach between all agencies to address the fragile lake and estuarine environment.
Residents are pushing for a replacement or upgrade to the bridge with the priority to widen the flow of water.
"Lake Cathie has been at the forefront for council for some time now and we've come to the point of understanding that we can affect the bridge, but there are many stakeholders that affect the lake and estuary in its entirety."
She said a lot has changed since the hydrodynamic model was completed in 2011 and any changes made to the estuary now must not have a detrimental impact.
"There will be some people who will be frustrated by the time this will take but it is what it is," Cr Pinson said.
"This feeds into the broader study that we are doing as part our responsibility with our CMP. Work with us rather than against us when it comes to developing these processes."
Cr Rob Turner said seeking two for one funding assistance from the state government for this project should be a council priority.
Director Melissa Watkins said once the CMP scoping study is complete, council will be able to source a higher level of funding for projects like Kenwood Drive bridge that aim to improve the coastal and estuarine environment.
"That is a significant objective of this project to have access to that (funding) and look at the operational plan and what council can contribute," she explained.
"The priority for the grant funds is for works that improve the coast or estuarine environment. If hydrodynamic modelling determines this work is needed to improve the function of the lake I believe it is something that could potentially be eligible for funding.
"These works have to be included in our coastal management program."
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