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Estuaries, lagoons and wetlands
Estuaries lagoons and wetlands are dynamic living entities and an important part of the natural environment. Council is working with government bodies industry and local communities to preserve these areas.

Estuaries, lagoons and wetlands are dynamic, living entities and an important part of the natural environment. These systems are integral to landscape processes such as nutrient cycling, water detention, slow release of flood water and trapping of sediments. 

Within the Central Coast it is estimated there are about 870 hectares of mangroves, 190 hectares of saltmarsh and 1,780 hectares of seagrass. The Central Coast contains and is surrounded by a number of differing estuaries and coastal lagoons, from Lake Macquarie in the north to the Hawkesbury River in the south. Each system contains important ecosystems and is unique in terms of its ecology, biodiversity and management requirements.

Our wetlands have high intrinsic value for regional and national biodiversity, providing habitat for a wide range wildlife including waterbirds, fish, frogs and invertebrates, and water-loving plants such as sedges, rushes and various tree species. They also support many listed threatened species and ecological communities.

Since the release of the New South Wales Government's Estuary Management Manual in 1992, Council has worked with government bodies, industry and the community to appropriately manage activities in and around estuaries — guiding conservation and rehabilitation efforts, supporting land managers who have wetlands or creeks on their property, and educating the community.

Over the past decade, Council has developed and adopted Estuary Management Plans (EMPs) and Coastal Zone Management Plans (CZMPs) for all the geographical catchments within the local government area. In 2018, the NSW State Government established a new framework for the management of coastal environments which requires Councils to transition their existing EMPs and CZMPs across to the new Coastal Management Programmes (CMP) format. Council will be reviewing and working through its existing plans over the coming years.

The current management plans for each of the Central Coast’s estuaries or coastal lagoons can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

Monitoring the health of our waterways

Council has established comprehensive ecological health monitoring programs for all our waterways. These programs help us understand past and current condition, identify where we need to focus our management actions and determine long-term trends in water quality and ecological health.

Sampling is undertaken by scientists throughout the year at a number of representative sites. Data is collected on site condition, water chemistry, nutrient concentrations and a range of biological indicators which tell us about the health and resilience of each area. The program aligns with the NSW Estuary Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Protocols and allows us to compare our results to other estuaries in NSW.  

The 2022-23 Waterways Report Card for the Central Coast Local Government Area has been released and includes Southern Lake Macquarie, Tuggerah Lakes, Brisbane Water, the Lower Hawkesbury River and the coastal lagoons – providing a clear picture of our entire waterways network. The 2022-23 report tells us:
•    Of the 36 sites sampled, 11 are excellent (A), 13 are good (B), 11 are fair (C), 1 ranked poor (D) while none were very poor (E).
•    Water quality and ecological health in the three southern bays of Lake Macquarie remained excellent (A) for the sixth consecutive year.
•    Tuggerah Lakes scored two excellent rankings (A) at sample sites at The Entrance and Chittaway Bay, Canton Beach improved its grading to good (B) and Tumbi and Wallarah Creeks improved to a fair grade (C) from the poor (D) they received in the previous year.   
•    Water quality in most of Brisbane Water was graded excellent (A) except for Kincumber, Erina and Narara creeks which all received a good grade (B).
•    Cockrone, Terrigal and Wamberal Lagoons all remained consistent with last year’s results with Wamberal and Cockrone lagoons remaining good (B) and Terrigal lagoon fair (C).  
•    Water quality in Avoca Lagoon dropped to a fair (C), a drop from the previous year’s good (B) grading but a vast improvement from the very poor grading (F) it has had in the past.
•    All sites on the Hawkesbury River remained consistent with last year, ranging from A (excellent) at Patonga Creek to C (fair) at Mooney Mooney Creek
Council uses this information to track change, help guide our management decisions and identify areas where more detailed catchment audits are required.
Council uses this information to track change, help guide our management decisions and identify areas where more detailed catchment audits are required.

Read the full report for all details.

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