Lake Illawarra Coastal Management Program
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Lake Illawarra Coastal Management Program

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​To guide the management of Lake Illawarra over the next 5-10 years Wollongong City and Shellharbour City councils, with support from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage are preparing a Coastal Management Program for Lake Illawarra.  A Coastal Management Program (CMP) is a strategic document that outlines priority actions to be implemented to protect valued aspects and tackle the key threats identified for the Lake.

By prioritising management actions, a CMP promotes a targeted and coordinated approach to the use of the limited budget and funding resources available to councils. A certified CMP greatly boosts Council’s eligibility for funding to implement the actions, particularly State Government funding programs.  The CMP will examine Lake Illawarra, the surrounding catchment, and the foreshore areas. It will include the contributing waterways of Lake Illawarra and their riparian areas.

The project will involve four key stages, which are outlined below. 

Stage 1: Synthesis Report

Preparation of a Synthesis Report detailing the available background information

The first stage of the project is the collation and detailed review of all existing background information regarding Lake Illawarra, including its existing governance framework and management initiatives, scientific and environmental reports, and historical information.   The outcome of Stage 1 is a Synthesis Report which will form a detailed appendix of the final CMP.  The Synthesis Report will help in making recommendations for any further research or data collection.
The study team have prepared a Synthesis Report and is also in the process of liaising with the extensive list of stakeholders to identify further information and data sets.

Stage 2: Identify and prioritise issues

​Community involvement to identify and prioritise values, community uses and pressures/threats to Lake Illawarra

The study team has consulted with the community in late 2016 to gain an understanding of the various ways the Lake is utilised by the local and wider community, the aspects of Lake Illawarra that are valued by the wider community, and any threats to these values/uses.  The study is in the proecess of undertaking a detailed risk assessment to prioritise goals and objectives for management and will soon formulate and assess potential management options.  The outcomes from Stage 2 will be a short-list of management options for inclusion in the final CMP.
The ultimate goal is to protect and enhance the health of Lake Illawarra for the present and into the future.

Stage 3: Produce and review Draft Plan

Draft plan produced and reviewed by stakeholders.

The draft plan will be produced using all of the information collected to date. A set of prioritised management actions will be produced. The draft plan and management actions will be provided to stakeholders for review and comment. A public meeting to discuss the proposed management actions will be held.
This stage also involves the formal public exhibition of the CMP before its finalisation. Public feedback sessions will be held during the public exhibition.

Stage 4: Develop final CMP

​Development of the Final CMP document, including actions for implementation

The preparation of the CMP and Implementation Tables (actions to be carried out) will require further consultation with local and state agencies; seeking support for the plans implementation as well as potential funding for identified works and measures. 

Community Involvement

There'll be a number of opportunities for the community to be involved in the development of the CMP. Anticipated timeframes for community involvement and completing the CMP are shown below.
Please note, dates are a current estimate, and may be subject to change.
Late 2018 ​Formal public exhibition of the draft CMP
​Ongoing ​Community involvement in implementation of the approved plan.
If you would like further information about the project, contact:
Verity Rollason
Senior Coastal Scientist, BMT WBM
Phone (02) 4940 8882
Kristy Blackburn
Environmental Strategy Officer - Lake Illawarra
Wollongong City Council and Shellharbour City Council
Phone (02) 4227 7111

Lake Illawarra FAQs

​Why do we need a Coastal Management Program?

The NSW Government requires all coastal councils in NSW to prepare Coastal Management Programs (CMP) in accordance with NSW State Government policies and guidelines. CMPs replace Coastal Zone Management Plans. The Lake Illawarra CMP will be one of the first CMPs produced under the new guidelines.

A CMP ensures that the values of the community, councils, NSW State Government, and other stakeholders are incorporated into a management plan to guide present and future actions on the lake. It aims to protect and enhance the health of the lake, with consideration to the values and threats identified by various stakeholders. Essentially, the CMP is an overarching document to coordinate efforts between different bodies to ensure the lake is preserved for the future.

Once a CMP is endorsed by the NSW State Government it will also make applying for funds for projects around the lake more likely to succeed.

Who owns the land and infrastructure around Lake Illawarra?

Various State Government agencies, as well as Wollongong City and Shellharbour City councils and private landowners currently manage land and infrastructure around Lake Illawarra. An overview is provided in our Lake Illawarra Foreshore Lands brochure [820 KB].

Prior to July 2014 the Lake Illawarra Authority (LIA) assisted in the management of the Lake Illawarra foreshore public lands and infrastructure.

When it was disbanded in July 2014 the Lake Illawarra Estuary Management Committee was formed by both councils to strategically plan and manage the health and protection of the lake.

Who do I call about day-to-day issues?

Any queries or concerns about day-to-day management issues in or around the lake should be directed the relevant local council or other government agency as per usual.
Wollongong City Council can be contacted on (02) 4227 7111
Shellharbour City Council can be contacted on (02) 4221 6111

Will dredging be considered as a part of the CMP?

Dredging will be considered as a part of the CMP if it is raised as a potential solution to ongoing management issues by the community.  It is a complex issue, and usually only a temporary solution that can be costly to undertake.
Dredging can be used to:
  • Maintain or increase the depth of channels to allow for the movement of water and watercraft;
  • Provide sand and sediment for beach nourishment activities; and
  • Prevent the build-up of materials such as sand that can move downstream into waterways by allowing natural transport processes to occur.
However, dredging can impact on the environment by:
  • Disturbing the local environment by stirring sediment that can engulf aqua-flora such as seagrass beds;
  • Stirring sediment causing increased turbidity that can result in eutrophication (algal blooms);
  • Decrease water quality by releasing contaminants from the disturbed sediments;
  • Increase the nutrient levels in the water that can impact on both the aqua flora and fauna, and restrict the recreational usage of the water; and
  • Altering the natural equilibrium of the Lake.

Will dead seagrass (wrack) removal be considered as a part of the CMP?

The removal of wrack will be considered as a part of the management plan if it is raised as an ongoing issue by the community.
The removal of seagrass wrack was an initiative of the Lake Illawarra Authority (LIA). During their tenure, the LIA removed 50,000 tonnes of seagrass wrack between 1988 and 2011 in response to high nutrient levels causing overgrowths that upon decaying, resulted in foul odours. These maintenance works are costly, with $2.3 million spent on seagrass wrack and rubbish removal across the lifetime of the LIA. 
In recent years the more frequent flushing of the lake has prevented excessive nutrient accumulation and has decreased the decomposition of seagrass and need for its removal.

How is damaged infrastructure and erosion currently being addressed?

East Coast Low storms can cause damage to infrastructure and the lake foreshore. It is an ongoing process for relevant management authorities to fix this damage. You should report damaged infrastructure and/or significant new erosion to the relevant management authority (most likely your local Council). An overview of land managers is provided in our Lake Illawarra Foreshore Lands brochure​ [820 KB].
Ongoing infrastructure requirements and erosion issues will both be considered as a part of the CMP.

Will there be employment opportunities as a result of the CMP?

A completed CMP will make applying for funds to manage environmental factors in and around the lake likely to be more successful, meaning more projects and potentially more employment opportunities around the lake.

Will this plan consider the Lake becoming a recreational fishing haven?

Fishing is managed by DPI Fisheries.  Broadly, Marine Estate Management is being considered through a separate process by the Marine Estate Management Authority.
Recommended management actions in the plan could certainly be related to fishing (recreational and/or commercial) but it would be up to DPI Fisheries and the relevant management processes to make changes to policy.

How is the West Dapto development being managed to make sure the lake isn’t adversely affected?

The West Dapto Release Area has unique environmental challenges and physical constraints including flooding, riparian corridors, and its proximity to watercourses.
A number of development controls have been incorporated into the planning of the development including the maintenance of riparian corridors, increased flood storage areas and detention basins along major tributaries. The conservation and restoration of riparian corridors is a joint effort between Council and landowners/developers and this will assist in reducing increased sediment loads to the Lake. Other measures such as restrictions on the density of dwellings, and the implementation of stormwater devices such as primary pollutant traps, sediment basins, and bio-retention systems would also see reductions in nutrient, run-off, and sediment loads to the contributing waterways of Lake Illawarra.
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