3 June 2024

Have an opinion on the future of Bega's waterways? Here's your chance to float your ideas

| Claire Sams
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An aerial view of a harbour

Residents can have their say about plans for two Bega Valley waterways. Photo: Bega Valley Shire Council.

Fresh plans to manage and protect two of Bega Valley’s waterways have been released for public comment.

Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) coastal management officer Rachel Duczynski said the shire’s waterways were well appreciated by residents and visitors.

“Our coastal zone is highly valued by the community for its recreational and amenity benefits, its cultural heritage and as a key driver for the economy of the region,” Ms Duczynski said.

“However, the coastal environment is under a mix of pressures including development, land use practices and climate change-related factors.”

Two coastal management plans (CMPs) have been prepared: one for the Bermagui River, and another for Lake Curalo.

A CMP is a long-term blueprint for managing and protecting coastal areas, in line with legislation.

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If adopted by BVSC, both CMPs would be implemented over 10 years.

“The Bermagui River and the Lake Curalo programs outline key management strategies and associated actions to address identified pressures and threats to the environmental, social and economic values of each area,” Ms Duczynski said.

“They detail management actions to maintain and enhance the ecological health of each estuary and adjoining coastal zone, including maintaining good water quality and protecting aquatic habitats important to fish and other fauna.

“They also address the risk of coastal hazards including coastal and tidal inundation, and coastal erosion factoring in climate change and sea level rise.”

The Bermagui River is formed by the confluence of Nutleys and Myrtle creeks, with Coolagolite Creek joining three kilometres downstream.

Its draft CMP proposes 83 actions across 10 areas, and estimates it would cost $5.04 million over the coming decade to implement them.

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The threats considered in the CMP include increased tidal and coastal inundation, stormwater pollution, unregulated access from pedestrians to the river, the spread of terrestrial weeds and bank erosion.

Meanwhile, Lake Curalo, a semi-mature, saline coastal lagoon, is near Eden, with a catchment area of 27.8 square kilometres.

Its draft CMP estimates the cost of executing it at $2.979 million over the 10-year implementation period. This cost would cover actions taken to improve the health of the estuary and lower catchment areas, and respond to hazards such as climate change.

There are 29 proposed actions, including a regular topo-bathymetric survey, sealing roads to avoid pollutants running into the lagoon, litter-reduction programs and new signage.

A CMP will follow for Merimbula, Black and Wallaga lakes.

“The development of these coastal management programs provides a valuable opportunity to support sustainable management of the coastal environment, its values and its resources for current and future generations,” Ms Duczynski said.

Once the CMPs are finalised, they will be used to guide grant funding to carry out the proposed actions.

The Bermagui River and Lake Curalo CMPs are open for feedback until 11:59 pm on 20 June.

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