It's happening: Contentious lake scrape at Lake Cathie locked in for Friday, May 22

There will be no deep channel excavation this time. Instead council has opted to scrape the sand berm between the lake and its ocean entrance.
There will be no deep channel excavation this time. Instead council has opted to scrape the sand berm between the lake and its ocean entrance.

IT has been a decision the community at Lake Cathie has been waiting for over a year to see put into action.

And while it might not be what they expected to improve the health of their ailing lake, it is better than no action at all.

On Friday, May 22, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council will scrape the sand berm between the lake and its ocean entrance in a bid to release low-lying floodwater.

The action is an agreed flood mitigation measure to reduce the impact on surrounding properties and council infrastructure.

The decision came after months of debate between council and state government departments and was locked in at the May 20 meeting of councillors.

This decision follows approval received from NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment- Crown Lands to undertake emergency flood mitigation works, to alleviate the risk of flood inundation at Lake Cathie.

This licence was conditional upon receiving further input from both the Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries NSW), and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) who recommended a scraping of the beach berm to 1.6 metres as the more environmentally sensitive approach.

A push by mayor Peta Pinson for a 135m long, six metre wide excavation to a depth of 0.8m AHD to release the water and open the lake to the sea was defeated.

Cr Pinson was disappointed by the decision saying it was time council showed leadership on the issue of the "unmanageable lake", excavate a channel and "end the lunacy".

"This community has had expectations for us to act. The expectation came about as result of our opening strategy. Right or wrong, over many years, council has been responsible for the intermittent opening of this lake. It has become an expectation of the community this will happen," Cr Pinson said at the meeting.

This has been the traditional method used by council to open the lake in previous years.

Council instead resolved to take a more "community-minded approach", and scrape the beach berm on the northern end of the lake to a depth of 1.2m RL (reduced level) and six metres wide, forming a 135-metre long channel between the lake and the ocean.

The beach berm scrape method may result in a reduced risk of acid sulphate exposure or discharge, ensure the habitat of the green and golden bell frog and black swan is maintained, and reduces the risk of fish kills.

Council is aware that by scraping to a depth of 1.2m rather than 1.6m may increase the likelihood of a lower level of water in the lake, and may result in impacts on foreshore habitats and exposure of acid sulphate soils.

Heavy machinery will be used to scrape the beach berm, and the community is advised to keep well clear of the work area to ensure their personal safety, and advised not enter the water near the work area.

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