Estuary Management

Estuary management plans

Estuary management studies and plans have been developed under the guidance of the Natural Resources and Floodplain Management Committees.

The implementation and review of the plans are regularly discussed at committee meetings. For more information you can consult the agendas and minutes of these committees.

Entrance management

The Shoalhaven Local Government Area (LGA) manages 11 of the State’s 102 ICOLLs. The natural opening and closing of ICOLLs occurs on an irregular basis. A number of factors contribute to entrance conditions. Generally entrance closure is initially triggered by waves from a severe ocean storm washing sand from the entrance spit into the channel, thereby restricting tidal flow through the entrance. Reduced seaward flow over a period of time leads to the channel gradually shoaling completely until the point of closure. A series of ocean storms can hasten shoaling. Following closure the entrance may open naturally from a flood which scours a channel through the spit and the typical tidal regime resumes. A large flood is required to establish the substantial channel that is required to ensure a viable long-term open entrance.

Due to increased development in low lying areas, as well as their tourist values, the Shoalhaven ICOLLs have been under increased pressure. Council in partnership with state agencies and its community has developed Entrance Management Plans (EMP). At the time of developing the plans, limited flood information was available. Therefore the plans were driven by water quality concerns and low level nuisance flooding. Floodplain Risk Management Studies and Plans are being prepared for these catchments. These will identify and evaluate potential entrance management options, using various modelled entrance scenarios in present and future climate conditions. In addition to catchment derived flooding, ocean derived flooding are also being modelled. Preliminary modelled results clearly challenge current entrance management practices and community perception of flood risk by showing that an open entrance could pose a greater flood risk to the community than a closed entrance under certain flood conditions. The feasibility of permanent flood mitigation and entrance management options such as engineered options or strategic planning in light of current climate change predictions are investigated in developing the Floodplain Risk Management Plans.

Entrance management plans

Council, in partnership with state agencies and relevant communities, has developed entrance management plans.  The completion of flood risk management plans will trigger a review of these plans. 

Useful Links

Recent applications to seek approval to open Lake Conjola:

February 2019 Application

April 2019 Application

View the Lake Conjola Interim Entrance Management Plan

Lake Conjola - booklet explaining the natural processes and management of Lake Conjola (2018).

Find out more about the water quality of the lakes (new window).

Check out the lake water levels by visiting the Bureau of Meteorology website (new window).

If you live or work next to a waterway, read useful information on how you could protect estuary health and comply with the law.

Lower Shoalhaven River Drainage Remediation Action Plan  - a report prepared by the Water Research Laboratory (UNSW) describing remediation options associated with acid sulphate soils and agricultural drains of the Broughton Creek and Crookhaven River floodplains.

Gumboot News - a series of newsletters about the lower Shoalhaven River floodplain.

Learn about Protecting our Coastal Saltmarshes

Learn all about algae in estuaries of the Shoalhaven

Meetings & Agendas

View all agendas and minutes for Council and Committee meetings.
Agendas & Minutes

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