All five recommendations in the Review of The Entrance Management Policies and Practices for the Central Coast Council’s Open Coast Lagoons will be progressed and implemented.
The announcement was made by the Administrator, Dick Persson, when he released the report on Tuesday, April 6.
Two weeks ago at the peak of the March floods, Persson requested that Council engage Angus Gordon, Australia’s leading coastal engineering expert, to review the policies and practices governing the open coast lagoons, particularly Tuggerah Lake, and provide recommendations, if necessary, on future management of the lake.
Persson said that while he was satisfied that everything had been done to minimise the impact of the weather by Council staff, this was the ideal opportunity to have an independent expert assessment of Council’s policies and practices.
“At the outset I must reiterate that I have been impressed with the commitment and expertise of Council staff in managing the recent floods,” he said.
“I was confident that they knew what they were doing and everything had been done to minimise the impact of the weather.
“Understandably public confidence in Council has been damaged with the events of the past few years and the information and subsequent recommendations in Mr Gordon’s report should restore much of that confidence,” Persson said.
Key findings outlined in the report highlight the quality and experience of Council staff, acknowledging that they’re wrestling with a “wicked” problem to which there is no easy solution.
Furthermore, experience elsewhere dictates that Council has attempted to take reasonable actions to manage the recent floods given the significant limitations placed on Council by the complexity of the issues and the current dredging philosophy, Gordon said.
Finally, substantial pieces of work are in train with Manly Hydraulics Laboratory (MHL) and the State Government’s reports soon to be released that will further inform Council’s policy on the future management of the five intermittently closed and open lagoons (ICOLS).
Persson said that all five recommendations in the report would be progressed and implemented accordingly.
Recommendation 1: The proposed updated Council policy for entrance management of the four lagoons – Cockrone, Avoca, Terrigal and Wamberal – be completed, placed on public exhibition, finalised and adopted by Council.
Recommendation 2: The first stage report by MHL that documents, reviews existing studies and provides a conceptual model of entrance behaviour and sand movements, be finalised and made available for public discussion as it provides key background material leading to an understanding of the complex nature of the management issues at Tuggerah Lake.
Recommendation 3: Council ensure that flood risk management awareness is routinely brought to the attention of those whose properties are considered to be in vulnerable areas and that particular attention be given to ensuring that people do not create habitable rooms under houses that have been elevated above the local flood planning levels.
Recommendation 4: Any new Entrance Management Policy for Tuggerah Lake take into account the recognition that, given the relatively short time available after flood warning advice is available, the entrance be maintained in a flood ready condition; the condition that best optimises the complex interaction of the various components and impacts.
This flood ready condition should be a key outcome from the later stages of the MHL study.
Further, that before an Entrance Management Policy is finalised, it be placed on public exhibition for community input.
Recommendation 5: The community be encouraged to work with Council staff in an atmosphere of mutual respect so that through a team effort, the best result can be obtained, albeit with the recognition that both Australian and overseas experience is that there is no “silver bullet” for this type of challenge.
Angus Gordon, Coastal Zone Management and Planning, said the recommendations provided a way forward for management of the open coast lagoons, including providing for community engagement in the process.
A draft Central Coast Council policy is well advanced and there is sufficient additional information, staff expertise and knowledge to finalise the updated policy.
The Administrator, Dick Persson, said that he supported all five recommendations and was encouraged to have an independent expert acknowledge that there was sufficient expertise and knowledge within Council to get the job done.
The full report can be found online by searching “administrator” at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au
Media release, Apr 6
Central Coast Council