Tuggerah Lakes
The phase one consultation has now concluded.

We get it! Another plan/study/document for Tuggerah Lakes is not ideal but we do have to develop this program as it’s legislatively required. The good news is that we are not starting from scratch! 

Over the years we’ve heard you via:  

  • your participation and work with the Tuggerah Lakes Expert Panel  
  • the feedback you submit on a weekly basis via our Customer Service Centres, emails etc.  
  • feedback you have provided during consultation opportunities across Council. 

All this information will be used to assist in informing the Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Management Program. As part of the phase one consultation we also conducted a waterways survey which will assist us in plugging the gaps identified and to more broadly understand how you are using our waterways and why - stay tuned, a survey report is underway.  

What we have achieved 

Over the years there has been a lot of plans, studies and recommendations provided for the management Tuggerah Lakes and you’ll be happy to know that over 86% of the adopted actions have been completed or are ongoing. Further information on these actions and Councils work to date can be found:  

Fear not for the other 14%, it is anticipated that these actions will be carried over into the new Coastal Management Program. A new CMP also provides a great opportunity for us to work together to redefine our priorities and change tack if needed, so watch this space!    

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Who's listening
Vanessa McCann - Team Leader Estuary Management
What are the objectives of the Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Management Program?

The overarching objective of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary CMP is to provide a long-term strategy and short-term actions to manage the estuary in an ecologically sustainable manner, for the benefit of the wider community.  

Specifically, the CMP aims to: 

  • Maintain and improve the ecological health of the estuary and its coastal environment, by protecting the natural processes, natural variability, environmental assets, ecosystem integrity and water quality of the estuary; 
  • Support community connection with and use of the estuary, in an ecologically sustainable and culturally sensitive manner; 
  • Improve co-ordination of public authorities that manage the estuary waterway and its catchment; 
  • Identify areas for improved management and facilitate good decision making  
  • Acknowledge the cultural value and indigenous use of the system and protect areas and items of cultural heritage significance; 
  • Align coastal management planning with regional planning, and vice versa 
  • Manage coastal and climate risks proactively, strategically and with consideration of future generations 
  • Collaborate with government and community to manage the estuary system and its catchment, through improving collective knowledge and understanding, capacity building, and collective action. 
  • Support the overarching strategy for coastal management, objects of the Coastal Management Act 2016 and Marine Estate Management Act 2014. 
What is the catchment area for Tuggerah Lakes?

The Tuggerah Lakes catchment is around 790km2 and takes in the plateaus of Kulnura and Somersby the river valleys of Dooralong, Yarramalong and Ourimbah and the floodplains wrapping around the waterway from Lake Munmorah to Bateau Bay. In recognition of the significance these areas play in the health and function of the estuary, the CMP will apply to the whole catchment area, not just the defined coastal areas.   

Council has a Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan that was developed in 2006. Why do we now need a Coastal Management Program?

Changes in legislation require coastal councils to prepare Coastal Management Programs. The new legislation will no longer support the former Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) or Estuary Management Plans (EMPs) beyond December 2021. The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan has guided Council’s management of the estuary and catchment for over a decade with significant progress made on 86% of the actions during this time. The intended life of a CZMP/ EMP is around 10 years, so was time to prepare a new plan anyway. The good news is we won’t be starting from scratch. We will use the EMP, Tuggerah Lakes Expert Panel report and other research and studies to guide this new plan.    

Why is there another plan for Tuggerah Lakes being developed?

We understand there are many studies and plans for Tuggerah Lakes. It is a complex estuary and its management has been of keen interest to the community for many decades. The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan is the current certified Coastal Zone Management Plan for Tuggerah Lakes. It was prepared in accordance with the relevant NSW Legislation at the time. Like the EMP, the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Coastal Management Program aims to bring all of these past studies together and provide an evidence-based strategic way forward. The CMP provides an opportunity to revisit our priorities and work with all stakeholders to outline a direction for managing: 

  • the ecological health of the estuary and its catchment, 
  • coastal threats and risks, and 
  • competing community visions for the estuary. 

  Council will be using the CMP as a vehicle to better engage with the community and develop coastal management solutions, collaboratively. 

Have the actions identified in the existing plans been delivered?

86% of the identified actions in the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan have been completed or are ongoing. A detailed summary report is available here. Outstanding actions will be revisited as part of the development of the CMP.  

What role does the Tuggerah Lakes Expert Panel play in the management of Tuggerah Lakes?

The Tuggerah Lakes Expert Panel was appointed by the NSW Government in mid-2020 to undertake an independent review of the management of Tuggerah Lakes with respect to water quality. The panel’s report was released to the public in May 2021. Council intends to integrate the findings of the report into the CMP where appropriate and feasible. Council worked directly with members of the panel in development of the Scoping Study including the first pass risk assessment, forward plan and community and stakeholder engagement strategy.

You can view the report here

Will the CMP address The Entrance Channel Management?

Yes. The CMP will integrate existing management strategies, review these where necessary and include detailed guidance on how best to manage the entrance channel.  

Will the results of the review of The Entrance channel management plans be used to inform the CMP?

Council’s Administrator, Dick Persson commissioned a review of The Entrance channel management plans. This is an independent review and is being conducted by international expert Mr Angus Gordon. 

The report is available here

Will the CMP address flooding around Tuggerah Lakes?

No. Flooding is managed in accordance with the NSW Government’s Floodplain Management Program through the development and implementation of Floodplain Risk Management Plans. The CMP will have regard for these plans, and where overlap exists, will ensure there are no discrepancies in management recommendations and actions. For more information on flooding around Tuggerah Lakes and preparing for floods, please visit our website.  

What groundwork has Council done to improve Tuggerah Lakes?

The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan included four action plans relating to water quality, ecology, socio-economic values and knowledge and management. These action plans included 100 individual actions, of which 86% have been completed or are ongoing.  
By working with our project partners and the local community, the following key achievements have been completed (as of June 2020):  

  • 40km rural stream rehabilitation 
  • 13km urban stream rehabilitation 
  • 2.5ha saltmarsh reconstruction 
  • 29ha saltmarsh rehabilitation 
  • 374ha wetland conservation and restoration 
  • 277 gross pollutant traps 
  • 37 constructed wetlands 
  • Collection and removal of approximately 10,000m3 of seagrass wrack and macroalgae per annum 
  • Removal of approximatelt 1000T of litter and sediment from pollutant traps per annum 
  • 29km of shared pathway 
  • 32 boat ramps & jetties 
  • 4 foreshore beaches 
  • 33 regional and local playspaces and fitness stations 
  • Ongoing financial support for Environmental Groups (formerly Landcare) 
  • Award winning community education program 
  • Long term water quality improvement at multiple locations 
  • Extensive research & innovation to improve future management 

View the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan: Summary of Implementation Report 2008-20 for more information 

Even whilst we prepare this new plan, we are still working to improve the estuary and catchment in high priority locations. You may not always see where we are working, so instead why not explore the many on-ground works completed during the implementation of the EMP. The map contains locations and information on projects completed by Council and its partners through various grant programs as well as Council funded projects.  

View the Tuggerah Lake Estuary Management project map 

Will the Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Management Program address wrack?

Yes. Wrack management is hugely important to our community from an aesthetic and recreational point of view and when done in a strategic manner, can help to improve water quality as well. Whilst we acknowledge that seagrass, wrack and macroalgae play an important part on the ecology and habitat value of the estuary, and have always been part of the estuary, improved wrack management will be a key feature of the CMP.  

Will the Tuggerah Lakes Coastal Management Program address The Entrance Chanel opening?

Yes. The CMP will integrate existing management strategies, review these where necessary and include detailed guidance on how best to manage opening of the entrance channel.  

Who manages Tuggerah Lakes?

Land and waterways areas are owned and/or managed by a number of different government agencies, private individuals and other organisations. In practice, Central Coast Council has been at the forefront of planning and management of the Tuggerah Lakes coastal zone and catchment land since the completion of the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan (EMP) in 2006. Management efforts by Council over the past decade or more have been supported (and heavily reliant) on the Federal Government grants which cover some, but not all actions identified in the EMP (e.g. Caring for our Country (2008-13), National Landcare Programme (2014-17), Improving your Local Parks and Environment (2017-20) and Environment Restoration Fund (2020-23).  

The CMP provides a framework for establishing clear ongoing governance arrangements for the estuary and relevant government agencies must have regard for the content of a CMP.  

What is the water quality like in Tuggerah Lakes?

Council has a water quality monitoring program in place for all its waterways, including Tuggerah Lakes. Monthly sampling of Tuggerah Lakes has been underway since 2011-12. These programs help to understand past and current condition, identify where we need to focus our management actions and determine long-term trends in water quality and ecological health. 

Sampling is undertaken by scientists throughout the year at a number of representative sites. Data is collected on site condition, water chemistry, nutrient concentrations and a range of biological indicators which tell us about the health and resilience of each area. The program aligns with the NSW Estuary Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Protocols and allows us to compare our results to other estuaries in NSW.   

The 2019-20 Waterways Report Card for the Central Coast Local Government Area has been released and includes Southern Lake Macquarie, Tuggerah Lakes, Brisbane Water, the Lower Hawkesbury River and the coastal lagoons – providing a clear picture of our entire waterways network. The 2019-20 report tells us: 

  • Of the 36 sites sampled, 25% are excellent, 39% are good, 33% are fair and 3% are very poor 
  • Brisbane Water estuary is generally considered good or excellent, with fair ratings at Narara Creek, Erina Creek and Kincumber Broadwater 
  • Water quality throughout the Tuggerah Lakes estuary was generally good, with fair results for Budgewoi Lake, Wallarah Creek, Canton Beach, Ourimbah Creek and Killarney Vale and an excellent rating for Chittaway Bay 
  • The water quality at our southern Lake Macquarie sites is excellent 
  • Our coastal lagoons vary from excellent at Cockrone Lagoon to very poor at Avoca Lagoon. 

Council uses this information to track change, help guide our management decisions and identify areas where more detailed catchment audits are required. 

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