Our Coast, Our Waterways

Tuggerah Lakes

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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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. 

Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons

Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons
The phase one consultation has now concluded.

We may be just a tad bias, but we reckon that we live on the best coastline in Australia (and maybe even the world!). From the calm waters of Patonga Beach, the pumping swell at Avoca Beach, the magnificent cliffs at Foresters Beach, the serenity of Cabbage Tree Harbour and the sprawling sand of Budgewoi Beach – the Coast has a huge diversity in its beaches and what they have to offer. 

This diversity also makes it a challenging and dynamic Coastline for Council to manage. We currently have 5 Coastal Zone Management Plans which set out the management options for our coastline. A change in the legislation means that Central Coast Council now need to develop a Coastal Management Program, Council will be developing one CMP for the Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons.  The good news is that we are not starting from scratch!  

Over the years we’ve heard you via:  

  • your participation in the development of the Coastal Zone Management Plans 
  • the feedback you submit on a weekly basis via our Customer Service Centres, emails etc. 
  • more recently, your participation in the Wamberal Beach values and uses survey. 

All this information will be used to assist in informing the Open Coast and Coastal Lagoons Coastal Management Program. We 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 

With the diversity of our coastline, comes the complexity and over the years there has been a lot of plans, studies and recommendations provided for the management of our incredible coastline, 65% of the adopted actions have been completed (or are ongoing actions). Further information on the achievements thus far can be found:  

For the other 35%, it is anticipated that these actions will be carried over into the new Coastal Management Program were appropriate.  

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Toan Dam - Senior Coastal Planning Officer
What are the objectives of the Open Coast & Coastal Lagoons Coastal Management Program?

Consistent with the Coastal Management Act 2016, the objectives of the Central Coast CMP of Open Coasts and Lagoons are to manage the coastal environment in a manner that is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development for the social, cultural and economic well-being of the people of the Central Coast. 

As such, the objectives of the new CMP are: 

  • to protect and enhance natural processes and environmental values of the Central Coast open coast and lagoons 
  • to support the social and cultural values of the Central Coast and maintain public access, amenity, use and safety 
  • to acknowledge Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual, social, customary and economic use of the Central Coast 
  • to recognise the subject area as a vital economic zone and to support sustainable coastal economies 
  • to facilitate ecologically sustainable development in the Central Coast and promote sustainable land use planning decision-making 
  • to mitigate current and future risks from coastal hazards, taking into account the effects of climate change 
  • to recognise that the local and regional scale effects of coastal processes, and the inherently ambulatory and dynamic nature of the shoreline, may result in the loss of coastal land to the sea (including estuaries and other arms of the sea), and to manage coastal use and development accordingly 
  • to promote integrated and co-ordinated coastal planning, management and reporting 
  • to encourage and promote plans and strategies to improve the resilience of coastal assets to the impacts of an uncertain climate future including impacts of extreme storm events 
  • to ensure co-ordination of the policies and activities of government and public authorities relating to the coastal zone and to facilitate the proper integration of their management activities 
  • to support public participation in coastal management and planning for the Central Coast and greater public awareness, education and understanding of coastal processes and management actions 
  • to facilitate the identification of land in the coastal zone for acquisition by public or local authorities in order to promote the protection, enhancement, maintenance and restoration of the environment of the coastal zone 
  • to support the objects of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014. 
What is geographical scope of the Open Coast & Coastal Lagoons CMP?

The Open Coast and Lagoons CMP geographical scope includes approximately 80 kilometres of open coast along the Central Coast’s coastline from the southern end of Box Head (Killcare beach) in Bouddi National Park to Snapper Point at the northern end of Budgewoi Beach embayment - including all sandy beaches, several barrier beaches, numerous pocket beaches, intertidal rock platforms, high sandstone cliffs, sections of rocky coasts and coastal lagoons. 

The CMP area includes the catchment and waterbodies of four of the five open coastal estuary/lagoon systems (Cockrone, Avoca, Terrigal and Wamberal), however does not include the Entrance Channel area and Tuggerah Lakes, which will be covered by the Tuggerah Lakes CMP being prepared by Council. 

Which beaches are included in the Open Coast & Coastal Lagoons CMP?

All the sandy beaches from Box Head in the south to Snapper Point in the north are included in this CMP, which are: Patonga Beach, Pearl Beach, Umina Beacj, Ocean Beach, Putty - Killcare Beach, Copacabana - MacMasters Beach, North Avoca & Avoca Beach. Terrigal Beach, Wamberal Beach, Foresters Beach, Bateau Bay, Shelly Beach, Toowoon Bay, Blue Bay, The Entrance Beach, The Entrance North Beach, Pelican Beach, Soldiers Beach, Pebbly Beach, Jenny Dixon Beach, Hargraves Beach, Lakes Beach, and Budgewoi Beach. 
 

Why are the lagoons included in the Open Coast CMP?

The spatial extent of this CMP includes four open coast lagoons within the Central Coast LGA (being Wamberal, Terrigal, Avoca, and Cockrone lagoons), while a separate CMP is being developed by Council for Tuggerah Lakes. Within the LGA there is one other coastal lagoon that is located at Pearl Beach; however, this lagoon and surrounding coastline will be included in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River System Coastal Management Program, and therefore is not included within this CMP. 

These four coastal lagoons are included in this CMP because they exhibit an intermit connection to the open coast and are classified as Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes or Lagoons (ICOLLs). An ICOLL is a shallow coastal water body with an entrance barrier, which has some intermittent connection to the ocean through one or more restricted inlets. It is noted that ICOLLs are considered to be typically less tolerant of external pressures when compared to other types of estuaries, and therefore should be managed carefully to avoid significant environmental degradation. 
 

What happens to the existing Coastal Zone Management Plans?

Council has a strong tradition of planning for natural hazards, with both former Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council having developed a range of strategic and management plans for the coastline and coastal lagoons, including: 

  • Gosford Lagoons Coastal Zone Management Plan (2015) 
  • Gosford Beaches Coastal Zone Management Plan (2017)  
  • Wyong Coastal Zone Management Plan (2011) 
  • Draft Wyong Coastal Zone Management Plan (2018).  

The development of these CZMPs generally follows the structure of the previous NSW planning instruments and legislative framework, guided by the requirements of the former Coastal Protection Act 1979. Since the finalisation of these plans, the NSW Coastal Reforms have changed the way Coastal Management Programs are prepared and implemented. However, these CZMPs do not carry equal status as only the Gosford Beaches Coastal Zone Management Plan (2017) has been certified under the Coastal Protection Act 1979. The Wyong Coastal Zone Management Plan (2018) remains in draft form, due in part because DPIE-Crown Lands did not provide formal agreement to the actions contained within that were identified as the responsibility of DPIE-Crown Lands (Office of the Minister for the Environment, 2018). 

The statutory and policy framework for coastal and marine management was the subject of the New South Wales Coastal Reforms over several years, resulting in the passage of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014 and the Coastal Management Act 2016, which has practical effect through the requirements of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018. The savings, transitional and other provisions of the Coastal Management Act 2016 state that a Coastal Zone Management Plan in force under the former Act ceases to have effect at the end of 31 December 2021. 

After 31 December 2021, actions contained within the certified Gosford CZMP will no longer be eligible for State Government funding. In order to continue effective management of the coastline under current legislation, and with the support of the State Government, it is important that Council seek to deliver an updated CMP, in accordance with the CM Act, for part or all of the Central Coast LGA within reasonable timeframes. 
 

Why is there only one Coastal Management Program being developed for all our beaches?

Seeking to address the challenges of managing the coastal zone in a coordinated manner, and in accordance with the Coastal Management Act 2016 (CM Act), Council has initiated the first stage (Stage 1) of the new Coastal Management Program (CMP) process, which comprises the preparation of a CMP Scoping Study for the Open Coast and Lagoons of the Central Coast. This project will run in parallel, and compliment, the development of CMPs for Tuggerah Lakes and the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system (including Brisbane Water and Broken Bay). The framework brings together the coastal management approaches of both former councils into a consistent strategic direction, providing for the integrated management of the coastal environment, confirming and consolidating the delivery of priority management actions by Council and public authorities. 
 

Have the actions in the Coastal Zone Management Plans been delivered?

In December 2020, an audit was undertaken by Council of the 323 recommended actions and strategies put forth in the adopted CZMPs. The status of completed and ongoing actions over the total action listed in each CZMPs are as follows: 

  • Gosford Lagoons CZMP 2015: 21/27 (77.8%) 
  • Gosford Beaches CZMP 2017: 102/239 (42.7%) 
  • Wyong CZMP 2011: 43/57 (75.4%) 

Council gives effect to many of these actions through the Integrated Planning and Reporting (IP&R) framework and the land-use planning system before being integrated into operational planning processes and resourcing strategies. Individual management actions are assessed for implementation in competition with competing community needs across the Local Government Area. Specifically, Council provides clarity about delivery and intended monitoring indicators for the CZMPs through adopted Delivery Programs and annual Operational Plans which includes relevant information about timing, costs and responsibilities. 
Through implementation of existing CZMPs, Council staff have recognised a number of factors that are recommended for inclusion within the new CMP. These include: 

It is important to have well defined and articulated actions in the implementation table, as action wording that is not clear can be interpreted in different ways. 

Implementation actions need to clearly tie in with the objectives of the CMP, be realistic and achievable within the life of the program. 

There are examples of existing CZMPs having a very high number of management actions, some of which are considered idealistic, unable to be achieved within the timeframe and / or program funding. Implementation of a robust action review and vetting process is considered important. 
 

Who manages the Open Coastal Zone?

Coastal zone are owned and/or managed by a number of different government agencies, private individuals and other organisations. In practice, Central Coast Council is the forefront of planning and management of coastal zone and coastal lagoons. Management efforts by Council over the past decade or more have been supported (and heavily reliant) on the grant funding from Federal and State governments. The CMP provides a framework for establishing clear ongoing governance arrangements for the coastal zone and relevant government agencies must have regard for the content of a CMP. 
 

Will the Open Coast CMP address Coastal Erosion?

Yes. Coastal Erosion has been identified as a major hazard that had a residual ‘extreme’ and ’high’ risk rating and are recommended for proactive management within the CMP. These include: 

Injury to beach users and/or residents caused by structures mobilising during storm events, or by exposure and mobilisation of buried remnants of historic foreshore protection 

Injury to beach users caused by erosion, instability of erosion scarps following beach erosion, and undermining at existing beach accessways 

Loss of house, public assets and other coastal habitats due to storm erosion 

Exposure/mobilisation of potentially harmful sediment, waste, structures, etc. 

Significant erosion events have occurred at a number of locations since previous coastal hazard studies were undertaken, a Coastal Hazard Study for the entire open coast and lagoons is completed as part of Stage 2 of the CMP process to define updated risk-based derived coastal hazard lines for use in assessing risks to current and future development. This study would also include further, updated, definition of other hazards including coastal erosion, coastal inundation and coastal cliff or slope instability, that may be utilised in by Council within a Planning Proposal to define and map a Coastal Vulnerability Area. 
 

Will the Open Coast CMP address water quality?

Yes. Water quality has been monitored in the Central Coast region since 2002 by Central Coast Council under the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Beachwatch Partnership Program. 

This report summarises the performance of 32 swimming sites on the Central Coast of New South Wales, providing a long-term assessment of how suitable a site is for swimming. Monitored sites included ocean beaches, ocean baths, estuarine areas in Brisbane Water, designated swimming areas in Lake Macquarie, Lake Munmorah and Tuggerah Lake, and four coastal lagoons (Beachwatch, 2019). 

Major elements of the new CMP focus upon improving water quality through catchment management, review of Council's lagoon entrance management practices, vegetation enhancement and sustainable recreational usage of the lagoon and surroundings. In the forward program for delivery of Open Coast & Lagoons CMP, a Coastal Lagoons Water Quality & Infrastructure Investigation will be conducted in Stage 2 and a Coastal Lagoons Water Quality Improvement Plan will be a part of Stage 3.
 

What is the water quality like in the coastal lagoons?

Council has a water quality monitoring program in place for all its waterways, including the coastal lagoons. Routine sampling of the lagoons began in 2017-18. 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.

Specific catchment audits were undertaken in the lagoon catchments in response to poor recreational water quality – more information can be found here
 

Where do I find information on beach water quality for swimming?

Since 2002, Central Coast Council has worked in partnership with the Office of Environment and Heritage to undertake the Beachwatch water quality monitoring program for the Central Coast. The program provides regular and reliable information to enable local residents and visitors of the Central Coast to make informed decisions about where and when to swim.

Council monitors and reports on the water quality of 32 swimming sites, including 15 ocean beaches, three ocean baths/rock pools, four coastal lagoons, four estuarine netted baths and six lake netted baths. Samples are collected and tested for Enterococci, which are a group of bacteria common to the faecal matter of warm blooded animals. These bacteria indicate stormwater and/or sewage contamination. The test results are used to determine if the site is suitable for swimming.

Results of Beachwatch monitoring are updated on the Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage’s Beachwatch websites during the summer swimming season, providing up to date information for residents and visitors on water quality and whether to avoid swimming at certain locations and/or times.
 

Hawkesbury-Nepean River system including Brisbane Water

Hawkesbury-Nepean River system including Brisbane Water
The phase one consultation has now concluded.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean River system which includes our beloved Brisbane Water is a massive body of water, so much so that it requires management by five other Councils (six, if you include Central Coast Council) and the catchment area extends into 18 wider Local Government Areas.  

It’s massive and requires a huge amount of collaboration between the six Councils and more than 20 different state government departments. Luckily, we’re all great collaborators and equally love our waterways. 

Over the years, each of the Councils have heard from our various communities through:  

  • the development of the Brisbane Water Coastal Zone Management Plan and Pearl Beach Lagoon Coastal Zone Management and Lower Hawkesbury Estuary Management Plan  
  • the feedback you submit on a weekly basis via our Customer Service Centres, emails etc.  
  • feedback you have provided during consultation opportunities across Council. 

We recently 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 

Up until now, each of the Councils had their own plans and were responsible for delivering the actions in these plans.  88% of the adopted actions have been completed (or are ongoing actions) in the Brisbane Water CZMP, Pearl Beach Lagoon CMP and Lower Hawkesbury EMP. Further information on these actions and Councils work to date can be found at: 

For the other 12%, it is anticipated that, were appropriate, these actions will be carried over into the new Coastal Management Program.  

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Who's listening
Name
Warren Brown - Senior Estuary Management Officer
What area does the Hawkesbury-Nepean River CMP cover?

The Hawkesbury-Nepean CMP covers the entire tidal and estuarine reach of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River and associated estuaries including Brisbane Water, Broken Bay and Pittwater.  This covers the Local Government Areas of the Central Coast, Northern Beaches, Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby, The Hills and Hawkesbury.  

Map of Hawkesbury-Nepean River CMP
Why are you developing a program covering such a big area?

Under the CM Act, councils are required to take a systems approach to coastal management looking at coastal zone management issues in the broader, catchment scale context.  The tidal and estuarine reaches of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system extend from the confluence of the Grose River at Yarramundi 145km downstream to Broken Bay intersecting 6 Local Government Areas.  In order to consistently and effectively address catchment-scale issues, it is important that the 6 local councils with management jurisdiction of the river system work together and that one program is prepared to guide this process.

Is Central Coast Council working with the other Councils to develop the CMP or will each Council have their own?

Central Coast is partnering with Northern Beaches, Ku-ring-gai, Hornsby, The Hills and Hawkesbury Councils to develop a whole-of-system CMP for the tidal reaches of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River System.  It is envisaged that this CMP will contain actions that address both catchment wide processes as well as LGA specific actions that address local scale issues which will need to be dealt with by the individual council for example Brisbane Water specific actions would need to be addressed by Central Coast Council.

A website which collates the information from all six partnering councils has been developed and is available here

What are the objectives of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Coastal Management Program?

The broad objectives of the HNR CMP are stated below however it is anticipated that they may be refined during the development of the CMP to reflect stakeholder and community feedback. 

  • to protect and enhance the integrity and resilience of the environmental values of the Hawkesbury River, Brisbane Water and Pittwater estuaries, including healthy, diverse aquatic ecosystems.  
  • to maintain and protect water quality across the system and its impacts on environmental, social and economic values - including ecological condition, recreational amenity and agricultural uses;  
  • to maintain and preserve the unique scenic amenity and natural character of the Hawkesbury River, Brisbane Water and Pittwater estuaries; 
  • to support the social and cultural values of the system and maintain public access and recreational amenity;  
  • to maintain the health, safety and wellbeing of those using the coastal zone (both directly and indirectly) - and to protect the health of human consumers of aquatic foods;  
  • to acknowledge Aboriginal peoples’ spiritual, social, customary and economic use of the Hawkesbury and to protect local indigenous cultural heritage; 
  • to recognise the coastal zone as a vital economic zone and to support sustainable coastal economies such as recreational fishing, aquaculture and tourism; 
  • to facilitate appropriate management of the coastal zone through ecologically sustainable development, and the promotion of sustainable land use planning and decision-making that is consistent with regional and local strategic plans; 
  • to mitigate current and future risks from population growth, urbanisation and coastal hazards (erosion and inundation of foreshores caused by tidal waters and the action of waves, including the interaction of those waters with catchment flooding); 
  • to ensure co-ordination between relevant government and public authorities relating to the river system - and to facilitate the proper integration of management activities across all levels of government; 
  • to maintain meaningful engagement with the community, and to support public participation in coastal management and planning, and to create greater public awareness, education and understanding of coastal processes and management actions; 
  • to encourage and facilitate research and monitoring – and to maintain the scientific and educational values of the river system;  
  • to support the objects of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014; and 
  • to align with the NSW Risk-based Framework for Considering Waterway Health Outcomes in Strategic Land-use Planning Decisions. 
Is there an existing Coastal Zone Management Plan for the Lower Hawkesbury and Brisbane Water?

Yes. The Lower Hawkesbury River Estuary Management Plan was developed in 2008 by Hornsby Council in collaboration with Gosford Council. In addition to this there are 3 existing Coastal Zone Management Plans relevant to the study area including:

The Coastal Zone Management Plan for Brisbane Water (adopted by Gosford City Council in 2012);
The Coastal Zone Management Plan for Gosford’s Beaches (certified by the Minister for the Environment in 2017); and,
The Coastal Zone Management Plan for Pearl Beach Lagoon (certified by the Minister for the Environment in 2017).
 

What other Councils are responsible for the Management of the Lower Hawkesbury River?

There are 6 councils with management jurisdiction over the tidal reaches of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River System:

  • Central Coast Council
  • Northern Beaches Council
  • Ku-ring-gai Council
  • Hornsby Shire Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Hawkesbury City Council.

What are the Catchment areas for the Lower Hawkesbury River?

There are 6 councils with management jurisdiction over the tidal reaches of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River System:

  • Central Coast Council
  • Northern Beaches Council
  • Ku-ring-gai Council
  • Hornsby Shire Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Hawkesbury City Council.
     
Who is responsible for the overall delivery and implementation of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River Coastal Management Program?

The HNR CMP will be delivered by the project steering committee which consists of representatives from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment and from each of the 6 partner councils.

A website which collates the information from all 6 partnering councils has been developed and is available here

What is the water quality like in Brisbane Water and the Lower Hawkesbury River?

Council has a water quality monitoring program in place for all its waterways, including Brisbane Water and the Lower Hawkesbury River. Sampling of these areas began in 2017-18 (Brisbane Water) and 2018-19 (Hawkesbury River). 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. 

Lake Macquarie

Lake Macquarie
The phase one consultation has now concluded.

Lake Macquarie laps on the shore of our most northern suburbs, often described as the forgotten North, but this is simply not true. We love all the waterways, both within our LGA and around them and Lake Mac is no exception.  

The Lake Macquarie CMP is being developed by Lake Macquarie City Council and whilst Central Coast Council are not directly responsible for its development, we’ve certainly been involved and will continue to be involved throughout its development.   

Lake Mac Council have a stack of information on their website on their process you can check it out at: shape.lakemac.com.au/coastal    

Also…. if you were thinking of skipping the survey that we’re currently undertaking (cause… you know… forgotten North) please don’t, its important for us to understand this about you as it will go a long way in helping us coordinate the actions that we need to implement for the health of Lake Macquarie!  

The survey has now closed but stay tuned because a survey report is on the way!

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Who's listening
Name
Catchments to Coast team
Name
Melissa Sawatske - Natural Landscapes Officer
Phone
4921 0333
Is Central Coast Council working with Lake Macquarie City Council to develop the Lake Macquarie CMP?

Yes. Lake Macquarie City Council are leading the delivery of the Lake Macquarie CMP with Central Coast Council providing support and assisting with management actions that fall within the Central Coast Local Government Area. 

Who is responsible for the overall delivery and implementation of the Lake Macquarie Coastal Management Plan?

The Lake Macquarie CMP will be delivered by Lake Macquarie City Council with support from representatives from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment and Central Coast Council.

How can the community get involved in the development of the Lake Macquarie Coastal Management Plan?

Lake Macquarie City Council have multiple opportunities for the community to get involved in, further information on these opportunities is available at: https://shape.lakemac.com.au/coastal  


Central Coast Council are also undertaking a survey which will assist us in understanding how you use and value waterways – this information will be used to assist in developing and delivering on actions associated with the ongoing health and maintenance of Lake Macquarie (we want to play our part too). 

What is the water quality like in southern Lake Macquarie?

Council has a water quality monitoring program in place for all its waterways, including southern Lake Macquarie. Routine sampling southern Lake Macquarie began in 2017-18. 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. 

Coastal Management Programs

Coastal Management Programs
The phase one consultation has now concluded.

Waterways are a huge part of the Central Coast community’s lifestyle. They underpin our identity, support our local economy, provide recreational and social opportunities for locals and visitors and support our mental and physical wellbeing. They provide the water we drink and the air we breathe, and our health is as dependant on them as theirs is on us. In addition to the values and benefits Central Coast Waterways offer us, they are important in their own right and have significant ecological and intrinsic value which should be managed both now, and into the future.    

We recognise that for most of our residents, it is difficult to go more than 2km without coming into very close proximity of a waterway, meaning that the majority of our population play a role in the ongoing maintenance and health of our waterways. This is why we believe the most effective way to engage our community is to take a regionwide approach.  

Our round one consultation survey focused on:  

  • the management of waterways 
  • use of waterways 
  • views on waterways  
  • obtaining a demographic profile of survey participants. 

The information collected will not only be used to inform the development of the three CMP actions, but also the education and implementation for the Coastal Management Programs.  

The lesson that we have learnt to date, is that the positive and pro-active works are often overshadowed by misinformation and missed opportunities to celebrate the wins and share knowledge with our community.  

We know that not many of our community recognise that we have implemented over 76% of the actions identified in our existing Coastal Zone Management Plans, Estuary Management Plans and the like. We are committed to using this opportunity as a fresh start with the community, as one Council, and will use this survey as a benchmarking exercise to ensure continuous improvement and action implementation. It will also allow us to be agile in our approach to managing our waterways with our community over time. 

In accordance with the NSW Coastal Management Framework, Central Coast Council is required to develop Coastal Management Programs (CMPs) for our part of the NSW Coast (excluding National Parks estate). Acknowledging the size and diversity of the coastal zone of the Central Coast, Council has decided to prepare 3 CMPs focusing on Tuggerah Lakes, the open coast and coastal lagoons and the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system including Brisbane Water. We will be working with Lake Macquarie City Council to develop a CMP for Lake Macquarie.  

Have your say  

To ensure the Coastal Management Programs reflect the values and preferences of our community we are inviting the community to:   

The first phase of consultation closed 15 June. Further consultation opportunities will be available later in the year.   

Our waterways need us, and we must develop these plans - we don’t want to exclude your important views so let us know what matters to you. 

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Who's listening
Name
Catchments to Coast team
Phone
1300 463 954

What is a Coastal Management Program?  

Coastal Management Programs set the long-term strategy for the management of our coastal environments including our lakes, lagoons, estuaries, beaches and their associated catchments.  CMP’s are prepared by local councils in accordance with the NSW Government Coastal Management Framework.  CMP’s will replace existing Estuary & Coastal Zone Management Plans which were prepared under previous legislation. 

What is the Coastal Zone?

The NSW Coastal Zone is defined in the Coastal Management Act comprising 4 distinct coastal management areas: 

  1. coastal wetlands and littoral rainforests area 
  2. coastal vulnerability area 
  3. coastal environment area 
  4. coastal use area. 

Each of these management areas has specific objectives reflecting their different values to coastal communities.  The Coastal Management State Environmental Planning Policy (CM SEPP) identifies and maps the coastal zone and establishes specific planning controls for each area.  

Click here to view the mapped areas.  

What waterways does Central Coast Council manage?

Central Coast Council in partnership with other stakeholders, government agencies and our community is responsible for strategically planning for, facilitating the use of and managing the development of the Coast’s waterways so they remain healthy, clean, safe and accessible now and into the future.  This is no easy task with a range of complex issues, alongside competing priorities and expectations.  

Central Coast Council manages:   

  • Tuggerah Lakes and its tributaries (Ourimbah Creek, Wyong River, Wallarah Creek, Tumbi Creek and Saltwater Creek)  
  • Wamberal, Terrigal, Avoca, Cockrone and Pearl Beach Lagoons  
  • Brisbane Water and its tributaries (Erina, Narara, Kincumber, Tascott, Coorumbine, Woy Woy creeks)  
  • Beaches extending from Patonga in the South to Budgewoi (?) in the north (excluding those within NPWS estate)  

We also assist in the management of southern Lake Macquarie, Broken Bay and the Lower Hawkesbury River and tributaries including Kahibah, Middle, Green Point, Mullet, Mooney and Mangrove Creeks.  

Do Coastal Management Programs include the broader catchment area or just the water?

Our CMP’s consider all physical, biological and chemical processes occurring throughout the catchment which can impact on the health of the waterbodies. The CMP’s will include management actions to address major threats & issues in the catchments.  

Who is responsible for developing Coastal Management Programs?

Coastal management programs are prepared by local councils in accordance with the coastal management manual and in consultation with their communities and relevant public authorities. Following completion of the CMP and endorsement by Council and other relevant authorities, they will be sent to the Minister for Local Government for official certification. 

Why do we need Coastal Management Programs?

Coastal Management Programs set the long-term strategy for the management of the coastal zone/our coastal environments including our lakes, lagoons, estuaries, beaches and their associated catchments.  Further to this, in order to secure grant funding via the NSW Government Coastal & Estuary Management Program to implement actions, a certified CMP required.  

What is the process for the development of the Coastal Management Programs?

The NSW Coastal Management Manual sets out the process for the development and implementation of CMPs. The manual has two parts: 

  • Part A: Introduction and mandatory requirements for a coastal management program 
  • Part B: Guidance for preparing and implementing a coastal management program 
    • Stage 1: Identify the scope of the CMP 
    • Stage 2: Determine risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities 
    • Stage 3: Identify and evaluate options 
    • Stage 4: Prepare, exhibit, finalise, certify and adopt the CMP 
    • Stage 5: Implement, monitor, evaluate and report 
Why do we need another plan/program/strategy for the management of our waterways?

Our previous Estuary & Coastal Zone Management Plans were prepared in accordance with the Coastal Protection Act (1979) which was repealed in 2018 and replaced by the Coastal Management Act (2016).  As a result of this, the existing plans will cease to be recognised by the end of 2021 and will need to be replaced with Coastal Management Programs prepared in accordance with new legislation.  Further to this, both existing EMP’s & CZMP’s and future CMP’s require review and update at regular intervals/ at least every 10 years to ensure currency and to reflect on achievements and challenges in implementation.  In this regard, our existing EMP’s & CZMP’s are due for review. 

What is the difference between a plan and a program?

Semantics 😊... 

Plan - a detailed proposal for achieving something. 

Program – a set of related measures or activities with a particular long-term aim. 

Ultimately calling these things “programs” evokes the realisation that management of our coastal zone is an on-going and long-term activity. In a sense “plan” gives the impression that the work will be finished at some point and then we can move onto the next thing. 

How many Coastal Management Programs is Central Coast Council developing?

Central Coast Council is preparing three CMPs: 

  • Tuggerah Lakes 
  • The Open Coast & Coastal Lagoons 
  • Hawkesbury-Nepean River (including Brisbane Water and Broken Bay) 

Central Coast Council is also involved in the preparation of the Lake Macquarie CMP which is being coordinated by Lake Macquarie City Council. 

What will the Coastal Management Programs deliver for the community?

Coastal Management Programs identify coastal management issues and the actions required to address these issues in a strategic and integrated way.  CMPs detail how and when those actions are to be implemented, their costs and proposed cost-sharing arrangements and other viable funding mechanisms. 

What are the benefits of a Coastal Management Program?

Coastal Management Programs provide strategic guidance to the management of our waterways and beaches to ensure that issues are dealt with in an integrated and coordinated way. CMP’s are developed in collaboration with the community and other key stakeholders to ensure that they are reflect community values, build a shared sense of direction and facilitate mutual responsibility and collective action.  

Having certified CMP’s across our coastal zone will also open funding opportunities via the Coastal and Estuary Management Program whereby the NSW Government will pay up to 2/3rds of the total cost of grant funded projects. 

Will any of the actions identified in the existing CZMP’s be carried over to the new CMP?

Relevant actions in existing EMP’s/CZMP’s will be considered for inclusion in the CMP’s. 

How will the actions identified in the Coastal Management Programs influence the actions identified in other strategies, policies and plans such as the Local Environment Plan, Development Control Plan, Flood Risk Management Plans, Active Lifestyles St

Coastal Management Programs are developed in close consultation and collaboration with key internal stakeholders to ensure that there is integration with other council initiatives.  

Given Councils current financial situation, how will the actions identified in the Coastal Management Programs be funded?

There are many opportunities for external grant funding relevant to the implementation of CMP management actions via both state and federal programs.  The most relevant funding program is the NSW Coastal & Estuary Grants Program administered by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).  Funding through this program is only available for actions identified in certified CMP’s and is provided at a ratio of 2:1 meaning that Council only have to pay 1/3rd of the total costs for projects funded via this program.  

Council officers are continually seeking opportunities for external funding and are continuing to deliver on existing grant projects whilst developing the CMPs. 

How is the development of the Coastal Management Programs being funded?

The stage 1 scoping studies for the Open Coast & Coastal Lagoons and Hawkesbury-Nepean River CMP’s were partly funded by the NSW Coastal & Estuary Grants Program.  The stage 1 scoping study for Tuggerah Lakes was prepared in-house utilising existing Council resources. 

It is anticipated that activities undertaken during stages 2-4 of development of CMP’s will be part funded via the Coastal & Estuary Grants Program at a ratio of 2:1. Councils matching component has been accounted for in our operational budgets. 

Does the state government provide funding for Coastal Management Programs?

Yes. There are several funding programs that are relevant to actions identified in CMPs.  The Coastal & Estuary Management Grants program is specifically for funding the development and implementation of CMPs. 

How will Council track the implementation of the Coastal Management Programs?

Coastal Management Programs are implemented through Council’s Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework (IP&R) and the land use planning system.  This means that actions in our CMP’s link directly with the Community Strategic Plan as well as Council’s resourcing strategy, 4-year Delivery Program and annual Operational Plan.

In addition to reporting under the IP&R framework, Central Coast Council also produce an annual(?) state of the waterways report detailing the result of water quality monitoring programs and the Love Out Waterways website will also offer information regarding implementation of projects in our coastal zone. 

(FIGURE BELOW IS FROM PART 5 OF THE COASTAL MANAGEMENT MANUAL). 

PART 5 OF THE COASTAL MANAGMENT MANUAL
PART 5 OF THE COASTAL MANAGEMENT MANUAL
How can the community get involved in the development of the Coastal Management Programs?

Coastal Management Programs are developed in close collaboration/consultation with the community, a key output of the stage 1 scoping studies being a stakeholder and community engagement plan.   

To ensure the Coastal Management Programs reflect the values and preferences of our community during phase one consultation we are inviting the community to:   

Further consultation opportunities will be available later in the year.

How is the State Government assisting in the development of Coastal Management Programs? 

The NSW Government’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) are assisting councils by:

  • Providing technical and strategic support and also facilitating regional collaboration with other Councils
  • Reviewing the development of Coastal Management Programs against the requirements in the Coastal Management Act and Coastal Manual
  • Providing funding support through the Coastal and Estuaries Grant Program

DPIE are also currently conducting a survey - the Act on Adaptation: Coastal Wise Communities Survey - which we would encourage you to get involved in. We will be using the results of this survey to inform the development of our Coastal Management Programs.

The purpose of this survey is to:

  • Understand your experiences of the coast 
  • Understand the impact of various hazards you may have experienced within the Hunter and Central Coast especially sea level rise and severe coastal storms

This research will be used to inform both Council and the NSW Government about how to manage the impact of coastal hazards. The survey will take about 15-minutes to complete and is open until 28 May 2021.
 

Will the CMPs address flooding?

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 CMPs will have regard for these plans, and where overlap exists, will ensure there are no discrepancies in management recommendations and actions. For more information visit the preparing for floods page on our website.

Where's it happening?

Lake Macquarie
Hawkesbury-Nepean River system including Brisbane Water
Tuggerah Lakes

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