Water levels in Belongil Creek are at 1.1 metres and Council today mobilised earth-moving equipment to scrape the sandbank down to water level to encourage the creek to open naturally to the ocean.
Stakeholders including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands, Arakwal Corporation, NSW Fisheries and the Cape Byron Marine Park Authority were notified.
Belongil Creek is an ICOLL, an intermittently closed or open lake or lagoon, which opens to the ocean. When the sandbank closes the entrance to the creek, water levels build up and heighten the risk of flooding in the Belongil catchment.
Council has a licence from the NSW Government to instigate ways to encourage the creek mouth to open when water heights reach 1.1 metres.
“With rain predicted across the weekend, and the sandbank scraped back to water level, the intention is for the creek to open naturally, and hopefully minimise the incidence of a fish kill,” Mr Phil Holloway, Director Infrastructure Services, said.
“The management of ICOLLS like Belongil Creek are complex because any opening to the ocean could cause a fish kill because the sudden rush, or drawdown of water, can quickly strip the water of oxygen,” Mr Holloway said.
“Fish kills are a key concern for all coastal managers in Australia who are in charge of planned openings of intermittently closed and opening lagoons (ICOLL) like Belongil Creek.
Council staff are now closely monitoring the situation at Belongil Creek.