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Our Estuaries and Lakes

The Shoalhaven’s river and estuary environments are outstanding natural features of the NSW south coast. The river catchments, estuaries and associated coastal floodplains are significant resources for the people of Shoalhaven City Council, and the wider region.

Estuary Management Plans present integrated suites of management actions to protect and restore the health of estuary and lake systems. Healthy estuaries, lakes and coastal floodplains provide important economic and social values (such as fisheries, tourism, recreation and scenic beauty) that communities enjoy. The Plans provide details of how Council, other government partners and the community will work together to control threats and manage risks to the estuarine landscape. The Estuary Management Plans are intended to be implemented in conjunction with other natural resource management plans for the river catchment and the coastline, under Councils strategic framework.

Also part of the framework for healthy estuaries and resilient coastal communities are lake entrance management strategies and flood risk management plans. Together these plans manage risks to community assets, coastal development and healthy lake ecology.

Lake Conjola Reference

Estuary Health monitoring

Council and OEH have worked together to develop a Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting (MER) strategy for the health of Shoalhaven estuaries and lakes, linked to a State wide program of water quality and biological “indicators” for assessing and reporting the ecological condition of estuary systems

Core indicators include:

  • Chlorophyll a: measuring microalgae abundance
  • Total Suspended Solids and Turbidity measure water clarity
  • pH or acidity is a key influence on biological processes.
  • Dissolved Oxygen DO level is critical to aquatic life with low values causing fish kills
  • Salinity / Electrical Conductivity measures dissolved salts and limits plant growth.
  • Nutrient such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus track catchment inputs from erosion or land use.
  • Habitat mapping measures seagrass, mangroves and salt marsh communities
  • Faecal Coliforms indicate sewerage pollution and is critical information for oyster producers and recreation.

Information from this monitoring program will be used as a baseline to track how well each estuary is being managed over time and whether implementation of the completed estuary management plans are leading to improved estuary health. In addition, Council wanted to develop report cards that could be used to inform the community of the current health of its estuaries. The report cards will be available in 2012.