PORT Macquarie-Hastings Council has put processes in place to allow Lake Cathie to be dredged for both beach sand nourishment and recreational amenity.
The decision at the June council meeting comes off the back of a request by Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams in November 2020, who encouraged council to consider dredging the lagoon for the purpose of beach nourishment on Illaroo Road at Lake Cathie.
This request was in the mix of a debate about the construction of a revetment wall along Illaroo Rd and beneficiary-pays funding option that would see the 41 impacted residents fund 80 per cent of the project, with some costs per property up to $1 million.
Following extensive community consultation, council agreed in April that a report should be prepared to determine other options available for coastal protection before going back to the community to seek a preferred action.
Council engaged consultants Cardno to review the dredging frequency of once every 5-10 years, to include criteria that enables it to maintain both the recreational amenity of Lake Cathie and provide for coastal hazard management.
In addition, the Cardno review aims to increase the extent of the sand nourishment zone to extend further to the north around the shoreline and increase the area from 350m to 410m in length.
The decision to increase the frequency of dredging in the lagoon has been met with unanimous councillor support with deputy mayor Lisa Intemann thanking Mrs Williams for leading the charge on finding solutions for the lake's management.
"I think this is a really good step forward," Cr Intemann said.
"As with everything to do with Lake Cathie we have to express appreciation to those people who are constantly on the case about improvements to the management of the lake and in this instance, I'd like to specially mention MP Leslie Williams who brought forward this notion that we should be considering increasing the frequency on two criteria - recreation and also hazard reduction.
"If we dredge the lagoon for recreational purposes that gives us access to sand to be able to nourish the beach at Illaroo."
Mayor Peta Pinson said dredging could be the "saviour" in terms of finding a solution to coastal erosion at Illaroo Rd.
"This is fantastic because we've been talking about this since 2007 and again in 2013 and again in 2016 and again at various stages 2020 and finally we're looking at doing something," Cr Pinson said.
"This is going to aid Illaroo Rd, which is of great concern to our community who live there at this moment.
"There has been a lot of discussion about a revetment wall. Because we are a community that likes the natural environment, what could be more natural than replenishing Illaroo Rd so that beach remains as natural as it can be, whilst at same time dredging the lake for recreation.
"As Narrabeen is currently doing, they are successfully dredging their lake which is adjacent to a beach and they have very similar problems to ours and this is precisely what they do.
"This could very well be our saviour as far as a rock revetment wall is concerned, with continuous management in this space which I believe we have license to do."
Council has undertaken seven artificial lake openings over the last 10 years. The accumulated costs of these openings has been approximately $105,000.
Dredging works are additional to openings. There are substantial financial implications associated with the proposed dredging work. The previous dredging event in 2018 cost Council $175,000.
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