Port Macquarie-Hastings Council begins process aimed to restore Lake Cathie to health

Critical situation: Travis Fredericks inspects the depleted Lake Cathie. Photo: Lisa Willows
Critical situation: Travis Fredericks inspects the depleted Lake Cathie. Photo: Lisa Willows

The council has started a process in a bid to address the crisis facing the ailing waterway of Lake Cathie.

Restoring the lake to health will be a long road with a collaborative approach vital to success.

Port Macquarie-Hastings Council unanimously agreed on a way forward at its meeting on Wednesday, May 15 after Cr Geoff Hawkins put the matter on the council meeting agenda.

The council decision follows a submission from Revive Lake Cathie in response to the council's 2019-20 draft operational plan.

The council's next steps involve seeking advice from the state government to find out whether, as a result of the Revive Lake Cathie submission, the Lake Cathie Opening Strategy should be reviewed.

If the answer is yes, the council will ask the state government for the resources to undertake the review and the capital works which could flow from an updated strategy.

The council will consider including an allocation in its 2019-20 operational budget to support the initial work required with an update report due to come back to the September council meeting.

Cr Hawkins thanked Revive Lake Cathie.

The group, a grassroots community-driven initiative, responded to a need to address the state of a lake in crisis.

Revive Lake Cathie president Danielle Maltman told the Port News that the group was so thankful for the council's decision.

"It plays into us all collaborating together with local, state and federal governments," she said.

Mrs Maltman told the council meeting that the group sought an outstanding collaboration between community, local, state and federal government and all key stakeholders.

Cr Hawkins said it was now up to the council to grab the issue and get it running.

He said the process would not be successful without substantial support from the federal and state governments.

Cr Rob Turner stressed the importance of working together to get Lake Cathie looking back to its best.

Revive Lake Cathie presented more than 700 submissions in response to the council's 2019-20 draft operational plan.

The submissions represent a collaboration of the group's volunteer research supported by 787 submissions from concerned community members.

The community group seeks council support of the Revive Lake Cathie submission in its entirety.

Mrs Maltman said the lake was at situation critical and it appeared to be equal to the worst conditions ever experienced by the Lake Cathie ecosystems, waterways and catchments.

"We acknowledge these are complex matters at play, particularly due to lack of rain and the impacts of drought evidenced by lack of water and decimation of our wildlife population," she said.

"Lake Cathie's ecosystems, waterways and catchments are in crisis.

"Drought, human habitation and development have compromised the system and its natural habitats over the past decades to such an extent that it is no longer able to recover without extensive intervention and ecosystem rehabilitation."

Mrs Maltman thanked mayor Peta Pinson, councillors and the council staff for supporting Revive Lake Cathie.

The Revive Lake Cathie president added that she looked forward to a favourable result at the June council meeting.

That is when the council will adopt its 2019-20 operational plan.

"We all have a real opportunity morally and ethically to save a lake here and create a legacy for the betterment of our LGA," Mrs Maltman said.

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