Environmental issues

Water

Lake Macquarie Council

Location

Lake Macquarie City Council covers an area of 750 square kilometres and has a population of approximately 190,320 people.

The Lake Macquarie City Council ocean beaches run along a 28 kilometre stretch of coastline from Leggy's Point in the north to Catherine Hill Bay in the south. Lake Macquarie boasts a wide range of shorelines including rocky headlands, bluffs, sandy beaches, rock platforms and coastal lagoons.

Land uses within the ocean beach catchments include residential, commercial, recreational, rural, industrial and bushland.

Six beaches are monitored by Hunter Water.

Beaches: Glenrock Lagoon, Dudley, Redhead, Blacksmiths, Swansea Heads Little Beach and Caves. For beach details see 08483bwar07Ch3hunter.pdf (1239 KB)

Compliance with guidelines

Compliance with swimming guidelines was excellent in the Lake Macquarie City Council area during summer 2007-2008 (Table 11).

Bacteria levels at all six Lake Macquarie Council ocean beaches complied with the guidelines 100% of the time. Enterococci compliance at Swansea Heads Little Beach improved by 6 percentage points from the previous summer season.

The distribution of bacterial levels measured at Hunter Region beaches during summer 2007-2008 is shown in Figure 15, with Lake Macquarie beaches highlighted in grey. Levels of both faecal coliforms and enterococci were generally low. These levels were similar to those measured at Newcastle and Port Stephens Council beaches.

Ranking of beaches

All monitored harbour and ocean beach swimming locations in the Hunter, Sydney and Illawarra regions were ranked on the basis of their compliance with swimming guidelines during summer 2007-2008. A total of 41 distinct ranks were determined for the 131 sites monitored for both faecal coliforms and enterococci, with many sites ranked equally.

All of the six beaches in the Lake Macquarie City Council area were ranked equal first (Table 11).

Actions to improve water quality

Actions specific to individual swimming locations are included on the beach pages. Improvements in water quality will also be achieved as a result of various management plans and other projects.

Management Plans and Programs

Lake Macquarie Stormwater Management Plan: The majority of stormwater runoff in the Council area flows into Lake Macquarie and, as a result, the Stormwater Management Plan principally addresses stormwater issues within the Lake Macquarie catchment. Stormwater improvement activities within the Lake's catchment area will ultimately result in improved water quality at ocean beaches in the vicinity of the Lake's entrance. The plan continues to implement initiatives such as design and construction of stormwater treatment devices and wetlands, community and industry education and regulation programs, policy development, stormwater maintenance, monitoring and research programs.

Development Control Plan: Council has adopted Development Control Plan No. 1, which applies new regulations to new developments in the area of stormwater management and also encourages water-sensitive urban design.

Grant Funding

Dudley, Belmont Lagoon and Salts Bay Coastal Rehabilitation Projects: Council received funding from the Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority to undertake weed control and bush regeneration activities in these coastal areas. Bitou Bush and other weed species were targeted and removed. Works commenced in 2007 and aim to improve the biodiversity, recreational amenity and future water quality at Dudley, Belmont and Salts Bay Beaches. Projects will be completed in June 2008, with a provision for follow-up maintenance at each site for the next 5 years.

Naturalising Flaggy Creek: Council continues to manage the Naturalising Flaggy Creek project (funded by the Environmental Trust). It aims to regenerate a degraded section of Flaggy Creek, which flows via Glenrock Lagoon to Burwood Beach. To date the project has undertaken bush regeneration and weed control works within the riparian zone, creek stabilisation and stormwater quality improvement works, and community education programs.

Adopt-a-SQID: Council continued to fund the program in 2007-2008, with assistance from Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority, Hunter Water Corporation and Eraring Energy. The primary aim of the program is to involve the community in protecting the health of local waterways. The program encourages existing and new community based groups, including schools, to adopt their local Stormwater Quality Improvement Devices (SQIDs) and local waterways.

There are around 40 active Adopt-a-SQID groups across the city, with over 1,000 residents and school children involved.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • engage Lake Macquarie residents in adopting their local SQIDs
  • educate the community about protecting stormwater and local waterways
  • measure how effectively SQIDs are working, with a view to improving environmental quality and the health of downstream waterways.

Estuary Watch: In 2006 council commenced a monitoring and education program for the foreshore and estuary environments around Lake Macquarie. Estuary Watch includes water testing for temperature, salinity, acidity, turbidity and oxygen levels, and relates these measurements to environmental health. Assessments of foreshore and estuarine health are also made by observing foreshore vegetation, locating areas prone to erosion, and identifying the animals living in the mangroves, saltmarsh, seagrass wrack, and seagrass meadows. The Estuary Watch program is supported by grant funding from the Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority's Environmental Education Grant Program (funded through the Commonwealth Government's National Heritage Trust).

CLAMS (Communities Learning About Marine Shores) Project: Council received funding from the Hunter Central-Rivers Catchment Management Authority to undertake this project designed to increase awareness of marine shores in Lake Macquarie. A number of projects have been delivered under the CLAMS Project, including Project Aware on the Rocks, Our Coast Our Stories (Photographic Competition and Exhibition), Rock Platform Rambles and Marine Discovery Talks.

Educational Programs

Waste education: Ongoing community education activities, indirectly aimed at improving water quality, have been running during the past 12 months. These include the 'Don't be a Tosser' and the 'Give Your Dog a Hand' campaigns to include dog poo bag dispensers in all dog exercise areas in Lake Macquarie. The State Surf Lifesaving titles at Blacksmiths Beach were a waste wise event this year with recycling, 'Don't be a tosser' announcements over the PA and giveaways of personal ashtrays and bumper stickers with the 'Don't be a tosser' message. A number of Public Place Recycling stations were installed at popular beach areas, and the project has recently been extended. Council also participates in a regional plastic bag reduction campaign, 'Bag Yourself a Better Environment', involving a variety of education resources and activities.

Other Projects

Swansea Litter Basket Project: Council has recently installed approximately 30 gross pollutant traps to intercept litter, sediment and other contaminants before they enter Swansea Channel.

Table 11: Compliance and Ranking of Lake Macquarie Beaches for Summer 2007-2008

Site

Compliance (%)

Overall rank

(out of 41)

Faecal Coliforms

Enterococci

Glenrock Lagoon Beach

100

100

1

Dudley Beach

100

100

1

Redhead Beach

100

100

1

Blacksmiths Beach

100

100

1

Swansea Heads Little Beach

100

100

1

Caves Beach

100

100

1

Figure 15: Range of Bacterial Levels at Hunter Beaches during Summer 2007-2008

Page last updated: 24 June 2013