As part of the ongoing management of the Belongil Creek estuary and catchment Byron Shire Council has developed a long-term strategy for the estuary opening.
Belongil Creek is known as an intermittently closed and open lake or lagoon, or ICOLL, with the sandbar at the mouth of the creek periodically opening to the ocean.
ICOLLs are common on the Australian coastline with Tallow Creek, at Suffolk Park, another local example.
Since the 1900s Belongil Creek’s estuary mouth has been opened periodically to enable drainage of the creek and agricultural production in the catchment. The mouth of the creek is managed by Council but under strict licence conditions issued by NSW Crown Lands.
James Flockton, Council’s Flood Engineer, said Belongil Creek often opens naturally to the ocean but there are times when there is a build-up of sand that the creek is closed for periods of time resulting in flooding in the catchment, including on private property.
“In these instances Council needs to intervene and manually open the creek mouth and we have to abide by the licence conditions issued by Crown Lands to do this,” Mr Flockton said.
“This draft strategy not only looks at the licence conditions and triggers to open the mouth of Belongil Creek but it addresses the fine balance between good environmental out comes, environmental risks from manual opening, land owners’ wellbeing and existing use rights.
“Belongil Creek has significant ecological value as a habitat and nursery for fish and other marine life so it is incredibly important that it is well-managed and this draft strategy addresses a wide range of management issues.
The draft strategy has been written with input from stakeholders including NSW Marine Parks, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Crown Land, NSW Fisheries, Belongil Catchment Drainage Board, Byron Bird Buddies and local property owners as well as people who attended a drop-in session in late 2018.
The Draft Belongil Creek Entrance Opening Strategy is on exhibition for public comment until 28 June 2019.
People interested in the draft strategy are invited to attend a drop-in session on 14 June 2019 from 1:30pm – 3:30pm at the Byron Bay Library at Byron Bay.