Shoalhaven City Council has continued works to create a pilot channel along the northern alignment of Lake Conjola, as identified in the Lake Conjola Interim Entrance Management Policy. This continued work follows on from works just prior to Christmas, where a preparatory channel was established to meet any emergency scenarios that looked possible having regard to rainfall and storm events that had either occurred or were predicted at that time.
The pilot channel works carried out prior to Christmas were primarily to protect property from the potential for flooding, particularly having regard to the difficulty having works carried out over the festive season holiday period. A minor release of lake water also occurred at this time, however, a combination of high Ocean tides and a lake water level that did not quite attain adequate flow levels meant the release was minor and extended only over two days.
The current works, which were triggered last week by forecast heavy rain and thunderstorms, are more significant and have included the relocation of sand removed from the pilot channel in accordance with the approved Plan. The width of the channel will be increased where possible in accordance with the approved Plan. Council staff are carefully monitoring the base level to ensure best potential to achieve outflow from the Lake if circumstances warrant. Council will be closely monitoring works and weather conditions to ensure that a timely opening can occur if rainfall within the catchment requires emergency actions to be implemented. Council will also consider a controlled release if conditions are favourable with a view to reducing the low-level foreshore inundation which is currently being experienced. Without significant rainfall in the catchment, any opening to the ocean is likely to close quickly because sand is pushed into the opening from waves and wind. The purpose of the pilot channel is to facilitate a Lake opening more quickly in the event of significant rain.