Entrance to Burrill Lake
Council removes illegal lake barrier … 20 Jul 2009
Shoalhaven City Council has successfully removed an illegal rock barrier at the entrance to Burrill Lake. The illegal rock barrier led to the death of 500 mature whiting earlier this year. Council had to obtain permission from several government agencies to remove the illegal barrier.
Director of Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Ernie Royston said the illegal barrier not only led to the killing of the whiting, but also caused the lake level to unnaturally rise. “This was causing some issues on private residences in the area,” Mr Royston said.
“The illegal blockage of the rock gutter in the entrance to Burrill Lake before last Christmas not only killed a school of 500 mature whiting that were attempting to use the gutter as a migration route but also resulted in lake levels gradually rising from 0.75m at the base of rock gutter to 0.9m at the rock platform.”
The illegal structure was promptly removed, but after a site visit in May Council found that remnants of the unauthorised structure were still on site and partially blocked the rock gutter with some sand that was collecting around the remaining rock rubble. This situation ensured the lake level was unnaturally elevated.
The unexpected increased in the level of the lake had significant consequences: Public access at Lions Park and Kings Point was compromised, the health of some mature trees surrounding the lake was affected, and private and public assets are impacted.
Following consideration of a report on the illegal rock barrier Council gained approval from the appropriate NSW government departments to remove remnants of illegal rock barrier. Following approval Council completed the works on 3 July 2009 and as a result the lake water levels are slowly decreasing.
Council will investigate options within the Burrill Lake Entrance Management Plan as part of the development of the Burrill Lake Flood Risk Management Study. Council will also engage in more community consultation with citizens shortly.
Burrill Lake Entrance Management Policy
Shoalhaven City Council is seeking to develop an Entrance Management Policy to review estuary opening procedures for Burrill Lake.
Local Environmental Consultants Peter Spurway & Associates are engaged to draft the policy in conjunction with the Far South Shoalhaven Natural Resource and Floodplain Management Committee. Final recommendations are expected to be made to Council by mid-2007.
The policy will:
Describe Shoalhaven City Council’s procedures for artificial openings of Burrill Lake entrance
Outline the conditions required prior to an artificial opening
Determine methods to encourage natural entrance behaviour
Highlight state agencies and their requirements for potential artificial opening events
Consider local flooding potential from lake entrance closure
Review and extend Council’s infrastructure survey
Set a revised opening level for the policy
In addition the policy will consider issues affecting the local community for example,
the low relief of the village near the Lake and its roads
flooding of low residences
traffic and road safety
public health issues such as inundation of the sewerage system and water quality
safety of public infrastructure such as boat ramps and jetties
inundation of backyards
The issues affecting the local community can be managed by setting an appropriate opening level or a range of levels that would drive actions, dependent on the season and ocean tide and swell conditions.
State Legislation requires that a review of environmental factors must also accompany the Entrance Management Policy.
The estuary at Burrill Lake plays an important ecological role which must not be compromised by inadequate planning. Therefore, thorough research of environmental issues will be included in the policy so that entrance management can balance and minimise the impact on both the natural and built environments.
A public meeting will be held to present the Draft Entrance Management Policy to the community.