Coastline and waterways - Shoalhaven City Council

Coastline management

At 165 kilometres, the coastline of Shoalhaven City Council is the longest of any local government area in NSW.

The coast is very diverse in its character, with major estuaries, many coastal lakes, long wild beaches and small pocket beaches, extensive coastal dune systems, towering sandstone headlands and rugged bluffs. 

Shoalhaven City Council has important coastal management responsibilities, including land use planning, emergency response, safe access and recreation facilities, tourism, habitat and biodiversity protection and heritage protection, for the section of coast extending from Shoalhaven Heads to North Durras.

The development of the Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan (SCZMP) will help prepare Council and the Shoalhaven community to better adapt to the challenges of uncertainty about environmental variability and climate change, as well as the changes that accompany population growth. The plan is prepared under the guidance of the Coastal Management Committee and in accordance with the NSW Government policy directions (new window).

The Plan focuses on understanding and reducing risk, i.e. the likelihood and consequences of coastal hazard impact on biodiversity, homes, infrastructure and recreation facilities. Risk management requires an adaptive approach, structured to deal with uncertainty, change and evolving scientific knowledge. Implementation of the SCZMP will be monitored, reviewed and adapted as new information becomes available.

More information is provided through the Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan website (new window). This site also provides information on the Shoalhaven Coastal Hazard Studies.

Estuary management

Shoalhaven has 14 significant estuarine systems: Shoalhaven River, Broughton Creek and Crookhaven River system; Lake Wollumboola; Currarong Creek; Jervis Bay/Currambene Creek; St George Basin/Sussex Inlet; Swan Lake; Berrara Creek; Conjola Lake; Narrawallee Inlet; Burrill Lake; Tabourie Lake; Termeil Lake; Meroo Lake and Willinga Lake.

These estuaries are dynamic environments prone to both sudden changes (for instance floods) and progressive changes over thousands of years. Shoalhaven's estuaries are at different stages of their natural evolution.

Some estuaries are wave dominated estuaries, also known as ICOLLs (intermittently closed and opened lakes and Lagoons) (e.g. Burrill and Conjola lakes). They feature a sand barrier which creates a constricted entrance that allows the exchange of water between the central basin and the ocean. Those estuaries are characterised by natural infilling (sedimentation) of the central basin and the potential to evolve into wave‐dominated deltas when the central basin is completely infilled.

The Shoalhaven community values its estuaries for their recreational, economic, environmental and social significance.

Council is preparing, implementing and reviewing Estuary and Natural Resources Management Plans for its estuaries under the guidance of its Natural Resources and Floodplain Management 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.

Useful Links

Our Coast Our Lifestyle - Shoalhaven Coastal Management Community Engagement Report

Shoalhaven Coastal Hazard Mapping Review (final report)

Shoalhaven Coastal Cliffs and Slopes Risk Management Recommendations Report

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.

Learn about Protecting our Coastal Saltmarshes

Learn all about algae in estuaries of the Shoalhaven (new window).

Information regarding Horses on beaches and foreshores

Information regarding dead birds on beaches

Find out more about lake processes and sustainable management of coastal lakes in this brochure Lake Conjola

Shoalhaven Dredging Feasibility Report - March 2014



A newsletter about coastal management in Shoalhaven



A Newsletter for those who live and work in and around the Shoalhaven River Floodplain

To enjoy previous versions of Gumboot News click here

The Lower Shoalhaven River Drainage Remediation Action Plan explains the science around acid sulphate soils (ASS)

Management Options for Improving Flows of the Shoalhaven River at Shoalhaven Heads

Executive Summary - Planning for the Future of our Waterways: Understanding the circulation, flushing and sediments at Shoalhaven Heads

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