Manning River
Community comment on the objectives

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For the Manning River catchment a community discussion meeting attended by more than 80 people was held at Taree, an Aboriginal meeting was held at Kempsey (attended by representatives of many mid-north coast Aboriginal communities), and a number of written submissions were received.

Water quality and value of the resource

The catchment community identified a wide range of environmental values that it wished to protect, including recreation and tourism, agriculture, aquatic ecosystems, drinking water, and production of shellfish and crustaceans in the lower estuarine areas. There was strong support for achieving high levels of water quality-and for protecting existing water quality if it was already suitable. Overall, most submissions supported the adoption of water quality that would support basic river health and advanced human uses as an objective for the Manning River catchment. People recognised that there would be costs involved in achieving good water quality, and indicated that these costs should be spread across the broader community, since the benefits of a healthy river system could be enjoyed by the community as a whole.

The community expressed support for all the proposed environmental values and their corresponding objectives. Particular emphasis was given to a healthy aquatic ecology (protecting aquatic ecosystems), safe swimming (primary contact recreation), water looking pleasant and clean (visual amenity), being able to drink the water after some treatment (drinking water supply), being able to irrigate (irrigation water supply), producing clean, healthy oysters (aquatic foods), and being able to use the water for household purposes (homestead water supply) and to water livestock (livestock water supply). Spiritual and cultural aspects were also mentioned as being of importance.

River flows

The responses indicated that the community considered that the most important river flow issues related to periods of little or no flow in the river, the dependence of wetlands on the adjoining river or estuary, use and management of groundwater to minimise the exposure of acid sulfate soils, retaining some natural variability in the flow regime, and protecting estuarine processes. The possibility of limiting access to water at times when the river is flowing little or not at all caused most concern for people who need to irrigate or draw drinking water from the river.

Major issues

The process of developing the objectives has identified several major issues that need progressive action to achieve a healthy and viable Manning River catchment (for comment on some of these see the supporting information for the recommended objectives in Section 3):

Three committees are to be set up in the Hunter-Central Coast region: the Kulnura-Mangrove Mountain Groundwater Management Committee, the Central Coast Unregulated River Management Committee and the Karuah-Manning Unregulated River Management Committee.

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 Blue-Green Algae Management, Estuary Management Program, Floodplain Management Program, Wetlands Action, the Country Towns Water Supply and Sewerage Program, the NSW Shellfish Quality Assurance Program and Salt Action. At the Commonwealth level, programs are being funded through Landcare and the Natural Heritage Trust.

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

This page was published 1 May 2006