The Tuggerah Lakes estuary is a unique environment rich in biodiversity. Over the years, the natural function and condition of the estuary has been influenced by many different human activities around the foreshores and throughout the catchment.
Land clearing and land use change, loss of important natural filters (streambank, wetland and saltmarsh vegetation), changed water flows, more pollutants, nutrients and sediment reaching the lakes, and extensive foreshore modifications have all contributed to change – fewer native seagrass beds, more frequent algal blooms, increased amounts of smelly ‘ooze’ around the foreshores and an overall loss of habitat and amenity value for native plants, wildlife and the community.
Development pressure in the Tuggerah Lakes catchment grew rapidly from the 1960s onward as the area shifted from a holiday destination to a place of permanent residency, supporting ever-expanding residential, commercial and industrial centres.
Management of the wider catchment has improved with greater controls on farming, sewerage management and development. Now the estuary is considered to be “healthier” than it was during the 1980s and 90s. However it is not clear how much additional catchment development can be sustained before the estuary is pushed across some threshold to return to the eutrophic (excess nutrient) status of recent history.
During the 2000s the former Wyong Shire Council worked closely with the State Government, expert aquatic ecologists, fishermen and local community interest groups on a three-stage process to ensure a sustainable future for the Tuggerah Lakes estuary. Through this process the Tuggerah Lakes Processes Study, The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Study and the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan (TLEMP) were developed.
The TLEMP aims to rehabilitate the Tuggerah Lakes estuary and its catchment to a point where it can effectively maintain itself. Since its development, the TLEMP has been supported by a $20 million Australian Government Caring for our Country grant (2008-2013), a $3.25 million Australian Government National Landcare Programmes grant (2014-2017) and more recently a $3 million Australian Government Improving Your Local Parks and Environment grant. These grants have and will continue to assist in implementing actions from the TLEMP.
Map of Projects
Explore some of the on-ground works completed during the implementation of the TLEMP. The map contains locations and information on projects completed by Council and its partners through various grant programs as well as Council funded projects; it will be updated as projects are completed.
Estuary Management Plan
The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan (TLEMP) was adopted by the former Wyong Shire Council in 2006. The TLEMP was developed over a nine-year period and provides strategic direction for the management of the Tuggerah Lakes estuary and its catchment.
The TLEMP was developed to identify priorities, costs and likely timeframes for taking further action. It incorporates the social, economic and environmental values of the Tuggerah Lakes and was subject to community consultation before it was finalised and implementation began. The EMP provides guidance on the types of actions that should be undertaken to protect the estuary, the order in which they should be completed and the estimated cost.
The TLEMP is considered the platform by which Council will manage the estuary into the future. Its primary objective is to provide direction for the management of Tuggerah Lakes and its catchment in order to ensure the sustainability of its ecological systems. Council continues to refer to the Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Plan in developing our annual business plans and budgets.
The overarching aims of the TLEMP are to ensure that:
- the quality and quantity of water meet the needs of the community and lakes and rivers
- the plants along the banks of rivers, lakes and in wetlands are protected because these are essential to a healthy ecosystem
- biodiversity and ecological integrity of the lakes ecosystem are maintained or enhanced
- human activities can take place while protecting cultural heritage and enhancing soil, water and ecosystem health
- the social and economic needs of the community are met while protecting the environment of the coastal zone
- we continue to improve our understanding of how the estuary works and incorporate this knowledge into management.
Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Study 2001-2004
The Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Management Study builds on the knowledge of the Tuggerah Lakes detailed in the Estuary Processes Study and details key issues and management options for improving the health of the Tuggerah Lakes estuary and its catchment. The study looks at options for areas such as stormwater management, saltmarsh rehabilitation, water quality, the channel, dredging and many others. The study contains input from a Community Reference Panel (including boating, fishing, environment, Aboriginal peoples, Dunecare and other representatives), as well as technical experts and local business organisations. Further community and stakeholder consultation was held in late 2004 and their comments incorporated before the completion of the study.
Estuary Management Study
Tuggerah Lakes Estuary Processes Study 1998-2000
Prior to developing management actions for the Tuggerah Lakes estuary, an Estuary Process Study was developed to outline the current environmental condition of the system and establish a ‘baseline’ from which to work. This involved looking at all the existing scientific studies and the completion of further studies covering many of the ecological processes of the lakes. Research looked at characteristics such as water quality, saltmarsh and seagrass habitats, sediments and their movement and stormwater. Written by Council staff and State Government agencies, the Process Study was hailed “the best in the state” by scientists who reviewed it.