Karuah River and Great Lakes
Community comment on the objectives

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In the Karuah River and Great Lakes catchments a community discussion meeting attended by more than 50 people was held at Pacific Palms, an Aboriginal meeting was held at Kempsey (attended by representatives of many mid and lower north coast Aboriginal communities), and 10 written submissions were received.

Water quality and value of the resource

The community identified a wide range of environmental values that it wished to protect-including recreation and tourism, agriculture and irrigation, aquatic ecosystems, drinking water (including bore supplies), and production of fish, shellfish and crustaceans in the lower estuarine areas. There was strong support for achieving high water quality levels, or protecting existing water quality if it was already suitable. Overall, most submissions supported adoption of the discussion paper's (EPA 1997) option for water quality for basic river health and advanced human uses for the Karuah River and Great Lakes catchments. People recognised that there would be some costs involved in achieving good water quality and indicated that the costs should be spread across the broader community (instead of being narrowly focussed on a limited number of groups), since the benefits of a healthy river system could be enjoyed by the community as a whole.

River flows

The community expressed a range of views about the proposed river flow objectives, with some indicating that most objectives were relevant to the Karuah and Great Lakes, while others considered only a few were relevant. The objectives mentioned most often were protection of pools during periods of no flow or low flow, managing groundwater, minimising the effect of weirs and other instream structures and maintaining estuarine processes. Potential restrictions on access to water supplies associated with protecting pools and low flows caused most concern for people currently extracting water from the river. Some people considered that protection of pools and low flows was already being adequately addressed by local water user groups, while others considered that more equitable water use, monitoring, and licensing were needed. Concerns were expressed about the effect of Stroud Weir on fish passage, and about protecting groundwater supplies and associated ecosystems.

Major issues

The process of developing the objectives has identified the following major issues that people feel need progressive action to achieve healthy and viable catchments (comment on some of these is included in Section 3 in the supporting information for the recommended objectives):

Existing programs

Some of the above issues already receive considerable attention and resources. Communities, through Landcare and other programs, are undertaking important on-the-ground projects. The NSW Government has established and funded programs such as the Estuary Management Program, Salt Action, Blue-Green Algae Management, Wetlands Action, the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program, the Floodplain Management Program and the NSW Shellfish Quality Assurance Program. At the Commonwealth level, programs are being funded through Landcare and the Natural Heritage Trust.

Where management plans and programs such as these are already underway in the catchment, they should be acknowledged and, where possible, incorporated in river and estuary management plans.

This page was published 1 May 2006