Administrator welcomes findings and recommendations of the Independent Review of Council’s management of open coast lagoons
Tuesday, 6 April 2021
Central Coast Council Administrator, Mr Dick Persson AM has today released Mr Angus Gordon’s report ‘Review of The Entrance management Policies and Practices for the Central Coast Council’s Open Coast Lagoons’, supporting the key findings and all five recommendations made.
Two weeks ago at the peak of the March floods, Mr Persson requested Council engage Mr Angus Gordan, 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.
Mr Persson said whilst he was satisfied 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 our policies and practices.
“At the outset, I must reiterate I have been impressed with the commitment and expertise of Council staff in managing the recent floods. I was confident they knew what they were doing and everything had been done to minimise the impact of the weather,” said Mr Persson.
“Understandably public confidence in Council has been damaged with the events of the last few years. The information and subsequent recommendations in Mr Gordon’s report should restore much of that confidence,” said Mr Persson.
Key findings outlined in the report highlight the quality and experience of CCC staff, acknowledging they’re wrestling with a “wicked” problem to which there is no easy solution. Furthermore, experience elsewhere dictates that CCC 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. Finally, substantial pieces of work are in train with MHL and the State Governments’ reports soon to be released that will further inform Council’s policy on the future management of the five ICOLS.
Mr Persson states all five recommendations in the report will be progressed and implemented accordingly.
Recommendations outlined in the report include:
Recommendation 1: The proposed updated CCC 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.
Recommendation 3: CCC 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 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 optimizes 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 CCC 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.
Mr Angus Gordon, Coastal Zone Management and Planning, said the recommendations provide a way forward for management of the open coast lagoons, including providing for community engagement in the process. A draft CCC policy is well advanced and there is sufficient additional information, staff expertise and knowledge to finalise the updated policy.
“This review was impressed by the quality and experience of the CCC staff who are wrestling with this “wicked” problem; to which there is no easy solution. For the time being experience elsewhere dictates that CCC 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,” Mr Gordon said.
“I support all five recommendations made, and I’m encouraged to have an independent expert acknowledge that we have sufficient expertise and knowledge within Council to get the job done,” said Mr Persson.
The full report can be found by searching ‘administrator’ at centralcoast.nsw.gov.au