Lake Conjola Management Information

Shoalhaven City Council has been working with the Lake Conjola Community Association and the NSW State Government to manage the lake and its entrance, following the closure of the lake in April 2018. Council appreciates that the recent closure of the lake and raised lake levels have been the cause of anxiety for residents and visitors of Lake Conjola.

Council has created this “Get Involved” project page to assist the community in accessing up to date information on the management of the Lake and the entrance. Council will be providing timelines, reports, studies, resolutions and works that Council is undertaking to improve the health of Lake Conjola and manage the flooding risk on this page.

This page provides the following information and functions:


Coastal Management Program (CMP)

The Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan was certified by the NSW Minister for Environment in September 2018. This Plan will act as the guiding plan for management of the open (open to ocean swell) coast until 2021, whilst a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) is being prepared.

On 14 February 2019, Councillors and Council staff met with the Lake Conjola Community Association, State Government Agencies including NSW Crown Lands, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Department of Primary Industries and State Member for the South Coast Hon. Shelley Hancock.

This meeting was to discuss the review of the Interim Lake Conjola Entrance Management Policy and future directions for the management of Lake Conjola. At this meeting it was resolved to apply to the NSW Government Coast and Estuary Program for funds to prepare a Coastal Management Program (CMP), as per the requirements of the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the manual. Read more...


Entrance Management – Crown Land Licence Application to Remove Plug from 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.

A short summary of events leading to Council's application for a Crown Land Licence to remove the plug from the pilot channel is provided in an article below. Read more...


Shoalhaven City Council has been working with the Lake Conjola Community Association and the NSW State Government to manage the lake and its entrance, following the closure of the lake in April 2018. Council appreciates that the recent closure of the lake and raised lake levels have been the cause of anxiety for residents and visitors of Lake Conjola.

Council has created this “Get Involved” project page to assist the community in accessing up to date information on the management of the Lake and the entrance. Council will be providing timelines, reports, studies, resolutions and works that Council is undertaking to improve the health of Lake Conjola and manage the flooding risk on this page.

This page provides the following information and functions:


Coastal Management Program (CMP)

The Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan was certified by the NSW Minister for Environment in September 2018. This Plan will act as the guiding plan for management of the open (open to ocean swell) coast until 2021, whilst a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) is being prepared.

On 14 February 2019, Councillors and Council staff met with the Lake Conjola Community Association, State Government Agencies including NSW Crown Lands, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Department of Primary Industries and State Member for the South Coast Hon. Shelley Hancock.

This meeting was to discuss the review of the Interim Lake Conjola Entrance Management Policy and future directions for the management of Lake Conjola. At this meeting it was resolved to apply to the NSW Government Coast and Estuary Program for funds to prepare a Coastal Management Program (CMP), as per the requirements of the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the manual. Read more...


Entrance Management – Crown Land Licence Application to Remove Plug from 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.

A short summary of events leading to Council's application for a Crown Land Licence to remove the plug from the pilot channel is provided in an article below. Read more...


  • Drone Footage of the Entrance

    4 days ago

    21 June 2019

    The below video provides footage of the Lake Conjola entrance opening capture by drone on Thursday, 20 June 2019.

    21 June 2019

    The below video provides footage of the Lake Conjola entrance opening capture by drone on Thursday, 20 June 2019.

  • Water Testing Results Update

    4 days ago
    Water testing results update image 21 june 2019

    21 June 2019

    May Results

    Water sampling results for the weeks of 8, 12, 22 and 29 May 2019 show that the water quality has returned to levels observed prior to the rain event experienced on 23 April 2019.

    The results show that the water quality is excellent with enterococci levels well below the limit of recording in some cases (<1). This means that the water is safe for human contact as per the National Health and Medical Research Guidelines 2008.

    It is interesting to note that nitrogen and phosphorus levels are also decreasing as the weather becomes colder and...

    21 June 2019

    May Results

    Water sampling results for the weeks of 8, 12, 22 and 29 May 2019 show that the water quality has returned to levels observed prior to the rain event experienced on 23 April 2019.

    The results show that the water quality is excellent with enterococci levels well below the limit of recording in some cases (<1). This means that the water is safe for human contact as per the National Health and Medical Research Guidelines 2008.

    It is interesting to note that nitrogen and phosphorus levels are also decreasing as the weather becomes colder and the temperature of the lake drops. It is noted that phosphorus has returned to previous levels and nitrogen is dropping. Chlorophyll a remains at very low levels and bacteria at low levels - indicating that even with slightly higher nitrogen and phosphorus readings, it would not indicate risk of algal blooms or compromise the of water quality in the lake.

    June Results

    6 June – water sampling results for the week of 6 June 2019 show that the water quality is excellent with enterococci levels well below the limit of recording in some cases (<1) although slightly elevated at some locations – possibly due to bird activity.

    However, it is noted that at one site (E-54 – Fishermans Paradise) enterococci and faecal coliforms are elevated at 190cfu/100ml and 850cfu/100mls respectively. It is also noted at this site that nitrogen and phosphorus are elevated. This may be attributed to low flow, increased bacterial activity, bird life and limited flushing of the system.

    The latest results can be viewed on Council’s Aquadata page.

    Article image: Photograph taken towards the site E-53

  • Lake Entrance Now Open

    6 days ago

    19 June 2019

    Works were completed to open the Lake Conjola entrance this morning, Wednesday 19 June 2019.

    Water is now flowing out.



    19 June 2019

    Works were completed to open the Lake Conjola entrance this morning, Wednesday 19 June 2019.

    Water is now flowing out.



  • Channel Construction Nearing Completion

    7 days ago
    Entrance 18 june 2019
    18 June 2019

    Works are progressing well on the construction of a channel at the entrance of Lake Conjola in accordance with the conditions of the licence.

    The works on the channel are nearing completion to allow an opening of the lake soon.

    Depending on suitable weather conditions, Council is planning to open the lake tomorrow, Wednesday 19 June 2019.

    18 June 2019

    Works are progressing well on the construction of a channel at the entrance of Lake Conjola in accordance with the conditions of the licence.

    The works on the channel are nearing completion to allow an opening of the lake soon.

    Depending on suitable weather conditions, Council is planning to open the lake tomorrow, Wednesday 19 June 2019.

  • Licence Approved and Works Commenced to Open Entrance

    8 days ago

    13 June 2019

    Council has received an approved licence to construct a pilot channel at the entrance of Lake Conjola from the lake to the ocean to allow water to flow out of the lake. Machinery and crews are on site and this work has now commenced.

    In accordance with conditions of the licence, a site inspection was carried out on Tuesday 11 June 2019, which some community members may have observed.

    Following a meeting on Wednesday 12 June 2019 with members of the Conjola Community Association, a decision has been made with the representatives of the community, that...

    13 June 2019

    Council has received an approved licence to construct a pilot channel at the entrance of Lake Conjola from the lake to the ocean to allow water to flow out of the lake. Machinery and crews are on site and this work has now commenced.

    In accordance with conditions of the licence, a site inspection was carried out on Tuesday 11 June 2019, which some community members may have observed.

    Following a meeting on Wednesday 12 June 2019 with members of the Conjola Community Association, a decision has been made with the representatives of the community, that the opening will occur at the midpoint of the lake.

    Council can construct the channel once, at any time during a 12 month period. However, at the meeting with the Conjola Community Association, it was agreed that work should commence immediately (on 13 June 2019).

    The channel will be in place to alleviate the low level nuisance flooding and to reduce the overall level of the lake. It is not known what level the lake will reach, as this will be determined by existing sand levels at the entrance. Sand will be moved from the midpoint and relocated to the northern end of the beach.

    Council has also sought advice and clarification from Crown Lands to confirm if the licence includes approval to work in the ebb channel. In the meantime, Council will commence work on the channel.

    Read more about the history of Council's applications to open the entrance of Lake Conjola.

    Long Term Management

    The aim of the pilot channel and approved works is to alleviate the low-level nuisance flooding around the lake which will hopefully reduce the level of the lake. It is hoped that the Lake will stay open for some time, however, the approval is not for a permanently managed open entrance.

    Council is committed to addressing the long term management of the Lake through the development of a Coastal Management Plan for Lake Conjola. Council lodged an application for this Plan, prepared in consultation with the Conjola Community Association on 10 April 2019 with the NSW Government Coastal and Estuary Grants Program. The application includes requests for updated ecological, lake and entrance processes studies, a review of the 2013 Interim Entrance Management Policy and an estuary hazard risk assessment.

    Council has also applied for grant funding from the NSW Government to assist in the development of the Plan.
  • Water Testing Update

    19 days ago
    File3 2

    15 May 2019

    Test results from water samples collected from Lake Conjola on 1 May 2019 rated as ‘Good’ against guidelines. The results show that bacterial levels at sample locations have returned back to very low levels after the Monday, 22 April 2019 rainfall event where 81mm fell in just two hours. The test results from sampling the following day, 23 April 2019, showed elevated bacterial levels as a result of this event.

    We can usually expect high levels of bacteria in the water after these large downpours and NSW Health recommends not swimming in estuaries, lakes or creeks for...

    15 May 2019

    Test results from water samples collected from Lake Conjola on 1 May 2019 rated as ‘Good’ against guidelines. The results show that bacterial levels at sample locations have returned back to very low levels after the Monday, 22 April 2019 rainfall event where 81mm fell in just two hours. The test results from sampling the following day, 23 April 2019, showed elevated bacterial levels as a result of this event.

    We can usually expect high levels of bacteria in the water after these large downpours and NSW Health recommends not swimming in estuaries, lakes or creeks for this reason for up to three days after high rainfall.

    Weekly sampling will continue and results from 8 May 2019 will be available next week. Please note the image above is of a weekly water sample run, that’s why there are fewer bottles. Once a month all of Council’s sample sites within the lake are tested.

    You can see all Shoalhaven City Council’s published water testing data on Council's Aqua Data website and Lake Conjola Water Quality ratings on the Beachwatch website.

  • Water Quality Update

    19 days ago
    Lake conjola
    April 2019

    Council has traditionally conducted sampling at three (3) locations at Lake Conjola during periods of closure. Three (3) sites have been sampled weekly from May 2018 and tested for Enterococci and Faecal coliforms. These are sites 39, 44, 46 (view full article to see sites map images).

    On 14 November 2018, Council increased the number of water quality monitoring sites to seven (sites 39, 44, 46, 474, 40, 42, 475). Monthly catchment sampling is also undertaken, which includes these locations. Tests include total nitrogen, total phosphorus and Chlorophyll a, faecal coliforms, enterococci, pH, temperature and dissolved...

    April 2019

    Council has traditionally conducted sampling at three (3) locations at Lake Conjola during periods of closure. Three (3) sites have been sampled weekly from May 2018 and tested for Enterococci and Faecal coliforms. These are sites 39, 44, 46 (view full article to see sites map images).

    On 14 November 2018, Council increased the number of water quality monitoring sites to seven (sites 39, 44, 46, 474, 40, 42, 475). Monthly catchment sampling is also undertaken, which includes these locations. Tests include total nitrogen, total phosphorus and Chlorophyll a, faecal coliforms, enterococci, pH, temperature and dissolved oxygen.

    On 3 April 2019, Council’s Environmental Services began sampling additional sites E-53 Kidgee Point and E-479 Middle of Yoorulla Bay as part of the Estuary Health Program.


    The community can view all sample results on Council’s Aqua Data site. Water samples are analysed by an independent, National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia (NATA) accredited laboratory.

    To date (April 2019) the water quality is rated as 'Good' and there have been no issues identified with enterococci and faecal coliforms (which would indicate sewage) except on 3 occasions where the water quality was rated as 'Fair' following heavy rain. The readings for nitrogen at times have been slightly over the water quality guidelines, however, with the lake closed and with natural processes during lake closure, such as the breakdown of sea grass, which is expected. Council is committed to continuing weekly sampling at these locations indefinitely.

    You can view the water quality ratings on Council’s Beachwatch page. These categories are defined by the National Health & Medical Research Guidelines (2008). There are 4 categories – Good, Fair, Poor and Bad.

  • Entrance Management – Crown Land Licence Application to Remove Plug from Pilot Channel

    14 days ago

    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.

    2018

    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,...

    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.

    2018

    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.

    2019

    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.

  • Coastal Management Program (CMP)

    14 days ago

    The Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan was certified by the NSW Minister for Environment in September 2018. This Plan will act as the guiding plan for management of the open (open to ocean swell) coast until 2021, whilst a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) is being prepared.

    On 14 February 2019, Councillors and Council staff met with the Lake Conjola Community Association, State Government Agencies including NSW Crown Lands, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Department of Primary Industries and State Member for the South Coast Hon. Shelley Hancock.

    This meeting was to discuss the review of the Interim Lake...

    The Shoalhaven Coastal Zone Management Plan was certified by the NSW Minister for Environment in September 2018. This Plan will act as the guiding plan for management of the open (open to ocean swell) coast until 2021, whilst a Coastal Management Plan (CMP) is being prepared.

    On 14 February 2019, Councillors and Council staff met with the Lake Conjola Community Association, State Government Agencies including NSW Crown Lands, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Department of Primary Industries and State Member for the South Coast Hon. Shelley Hancock.

    This meeting was to discuss the review of the Interim Lake Conjola Entrance Management Policy and future directions for the management of Lake Conjola. At this meeting it was resolved to apply to the NSW Government Coast and Estuary Program for funds to prepare a Coastal Management Program (CMP), as per the requirements of the NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the manual.

    In 2017 Council had received funding for the preparation of a CMP for the open coast, St Georges Basin and Lake Conjola, however given the need to review both the Estuary Management Plan and the Interim Entrance Management Policy, it was decided that Lake Conjola required its own CMP to be prepared.

    Some of the key issues that will need to be addressed during the development of a CMP for Lake Conjola are:

    • A review of trigger levels for artificial opening of the Lake, including a planned opening at 1.0m AHD
    • Review of the coastal process affecting the lake entrance, in particular the 1999 Patterson & Britton, Lake Conjola Entrance Processes Study
    • Review and investigation into the use of dredging of the entrance to maintain the ebb tide channel and an analysis of dredging impacts on environmental, social and financial parameters
    • Review of the Entrance Management Policy regarding meeting the requirements of the current NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the Coastal SEPP 2018
    • Review of the current Estuary Management Plan regarding meeting the requirements of the current NSW Coastal Management Act 2016 and the Coastal SEPP 2018

    As part of the preparation of the CMP for Lake Conjola, a community engagement strategy will be prepared, which will ensure that the Lake Conjola community will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Plan.

    An application for Lake Conjola CMP, prepared in consultation with the Conjola Community Association, was lodged on 10 April 2019 with the NSW Government Coastal and Estuary Grants Program. The application includes requests for updated ecological, lake and entrance processes studies, a review of the 2013 Interim Entrance Management Policy and an estuary hazard risk assessment.

  • Mosquitos – Background and Updates

    about 1 month ago
    Image4 mosquitos

    On 22 February 2019, mosquito trapping was undertaken following concerns raised about the numbers of mosquitos around Fishermans Paradise and the associated risk of disease to the community. 21 mosquitos were trapped overnight - 8 of which were identified as Aedes vigilax. This mosquito is the foremost pest species for most of coastal Australia and is a vector (carrier) of arboviruses such as Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest viruses.

    NSW Health reports notifications for arboviruses across the state are quite low this year. The Illawarra/Shoalhaven Health District has had 7 notifications of Ross River Fever and 1 report of...

    On 22 February 2019, mosquito trapping was undertaken following concerns raised about the numbers of mosquitos around Fishermans Paradise and the associated risk of disease to the community. 21 mosquitos were trapped overnight - 8 of which were identified as Aedes vigilax. This mosquito is the foremost pest species for most of coastal Australia and is a vector (carrier) of arboviruses such as Ross River Fever and Barmah Forest viruses.

    NSW Health reports notifications for arboviruses across the state are quite low this year. The Illawarra/Shoalhaven Health District has had 7 notifications of Ross River Fever and 1 report of Barmah Forest since September 2018.

    On 28 March 2019, confirmation was received from NSW Health of negative results. No further monitoring will occur as numbers of mosquitos has substantially decreased with the drop in lake level combined with the onset of cooler weather.

    Image: mosquito trap deployed at Fishermans Paradise.