The below information provides a short summary from April 2018 to May 2019 of events leading to Council's application for a Crown Land Licence to remove the plug from the pilot channel.
Lake Conjola entrance closed in April 2018, after being open since June 2016. In May water sampling commenced as is traditionally carried out during a lake closure and in accordance with the Entrance Management Policy (EMP). In July, the Conjola Community Association began expressing concerns about the Lake closure and water quality and requested that Council open the Lake.
In November, following community concerns around water quality, and the three (3) current sites being inadequate to represent the water quality in the lake, Council commenced water sampling at seven (7) sites.
Following a rainfall event from an East Coast Low, late November saw the Lake increase by 300mm from 0.46m to 0.76m AHD.
In December, rainfall from a storm cell in the Lake Conjola upper catchment saw the lake level rise to 0.95m AHD (190mm). This triggered Council to go into preparation mode (as per the EMP for a planned opening) and Council began mobilising plant and equipment to begin the preparation of a pilot channel in the northern section of the entrance spit, as per the procedures of the EMP.
On 19 December, Council sought approvals from NSW State Government Agencies to prepare a pilot channel and open the Lake, given the approaching increase in population at Lake Conjola, the oncoming Council Christmas/New Year shut down and predicted forecast of isolated storms over Christmas. Council then excavated the pilot channel on the northern side of the spit in preparation of an opening.
On 21 December, Council removed the sand plug on the ocean side of the pilot channel to open the Lake to the Ocean, the Lake level was 0.95m at the time. The following day the pilot channel closed.
The second week of January saw Council re excavating the pilot channel and placing the sand on the northern side of the entrance, as per the procedures in the EMP. However, following a meeting with Council and the Lake Conjola Community Association, it was decided to leave the sand plug in place and not open the Lake. This decision was based on risk of fish kill and odour from rotting marine vegetation due to heat wave conditions
On 5 February, at Council’s Development & Environment Committee Meeting, it was resolved that Council make urgent representations to the relevant agencies for approval to remove the ‘channel plug’ and the entrance opened. View the resolution in the minutes of Council's Development & Environment Committee meeting - 5 February 2019 - MIN19.51 - page 4.
An application was lodged on 12 February with NSW Department of Industry – Crown Lands, requesting a licence to maintain the pilot channel and remove the sand plug to affect an opening. Supporting documentation submitted with the application included a Summary of OH&S Threats and Risks Assessment report compiled by the Conjola Community Association.
In February, an additional (2) two water sampling sites were added to the current sites being testing, bringing the total to (9) sampling sites per month in the area.
Council received notification on 6 March that the Crown Lands licence application to open the Lake was not approved.
On 26 March, at its Ordinary Meeting, Council resolved to make further representation to relevant agencies for approval to open the entrance. View the resolution in the minutes of Council's Ordinary Meeting - 26 March 2019 - MIN19.143 - page 6.
An application was lodged on 11 April with NSW Department of Industry – Crown Lands, requesting a licence to maintain the existing pilot channel (or construct depending on condition of pilot channel at time of licence issued) to affect an opening of Lake Conjola (application assessment timeframe 40 business days).
Preparation for a licence application for a ‘dry notch’ commenced, as per part 3 of Council resolution - 26 March 2019 (View the resolution in the minutes of Council's Ordinary Meeting - MIN19.143 - page 6).
A flood event occurred on 22 April in the catchment which was calculated as a 1 in 20-year event. 81mm of rain was recorded at Fishermans Paradise gauge over a 2-hour period, with 138mm recorded at the Bendalong gauge which saw lake level rises to 0.89m AHD but did not cause the lake level to over-top the lake foreshore/bank. Pooling of water around some houses was the result of the rain.
On 9 May, water quality monitoring results were "Good", returning to background levels following the results from 23 April which showed elevated bacterial levels because of the rain event. Lake levels have fallen to 0.84m AHD and remains steady. Monitoring continues.
For more recent events, please view the articles in the News Feed.