Coastal Lagoons Management Planning
Gosford's four coastal lagoon systems are a significant geographic feature of the Gosford region and are situated on the Central Coast about 50km north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
These lagoon systems belong to a special class of estuary known as Intermittently Closing and Opening Lakes and Lagoons (ICOLLs). An ICOLL can also be defined as a ‘shallow coastal water body separated from the ocean by a barrier, connected at least intermittently to the ocean by one or more restricted inlets, and usually oriented shore parallel’.
Each Lagoon is subject to a variety of pressures which may threaten existing economic, social and environmental values. The ultimate development of an estuary management plan for the Gosford Region Lagoons is seen as a positive and essential approach to addressing these issues.
The Gosford Coastal Lagoon systems are a highly valued natural resource for both local residents and visitors alike. They support a network of significant ecological communities as well as a diverse range of recreational uses. However, past land-use changes and human activities combined with a growing population are placing increasing pressure on the natural values and ecological health of the lagoons.
In recognition of some past degradation and continuing threats, Gosford City Council (GCC), in partnership with the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW), has resolved to prepare a comprehensive coastal zone management plan for the four coastal lagoons.
Coastal Lagoons Management Plan 1995
The Coastal Lagoons Management Plan was adopted by the Council of the City of Gosford on 25 July 1995 (Minute No 815/95) and was formulated by the then Coastal Management, Lagoon Management and Coastal Planning Committee ("CLP Committee") in accordance with the principles of Catchment Management. Additional principles are contained in The Estuary Management Manual and the Floodplain Development Manual. Council prepared this Plan of Management as part of the ongoing management of the coastal lagoons and their catchments.
The Management Plan identified site specific proposals for each lagoon and recommended general management proposals that apply to all lagoons. The major elements of the plan are:
Control of nutrient generation within the catchment.
Filtration of nutrients and pollutants generated in the catchment through natural areas and through constructed areas.
Management of the lagoon entrances.
Management of lagoon water levels for flooding and aesthetics.
Review local stormwater drainage problems.
Management of infrastructure works such as sewerage and drainage to keep discharges of pollutants to a minimum.
Review the capacity of drainage to reduce flooding effects.
Vegetation management in lagoon catchments.
Control of the level and type of development so that nutrients and pollutants are not generated or are prevented from entering the lagoon system.
Further investigation of the ownership and access to lagoon foreshore.
Management of the recreational usage of the lagoon surfaces and surroundings.
Formulation of community awareness and education programs to clearly explain the management plan and the proposals to the public.
Develop programs to monitor the water quality in the lagoons.
Identification and rehabilitation of degraded habitats.
Some elements of the Management Plan were implemented in the short term as they are involved with current policies and practices of the Council or merely need a change in attitude in the way projects or proposals are handled. Other elements of the plan involved creation of local approval policies, development control plans and local environmental plans to provide statutory support. Details for these elements depend on the attitude of the State Government.
Other elements of the Management Plan required more detailed design considerations including costing to be calculated, funding proposals to be worked out both for recurrent funding and for capital works funding.
This 1995 plan is now under review due to the fact that many management options have been completed, the identification of new information has occurred along with changes to legislation and policy.
Coastal Lagoons Processes Study 2010
Following the completion of the Gosford Lagoons Data Compilation Study in April 2008, Council engaged consultants to undertake the Gosford Coastal Lagoons Processes Study. This was the next step in the revision of the existing Coastal Lagoons Management Plan (1995).
The overall aim of the proposed studies is to provide a comprehensive report on the existing physical, chemical and biological condition of the Lagoons and those processes and interactions that influence their condition, both within and external to the study area. Another aim is to identify enhancement, development and management needs to ensure the long-term ecological sustainability of the Lagoons.
The objectives of the Processes Study were:
To identify and document the physical and chemical functioning of the Lagoons as well as related processes (that is, hydrodynamic and sedimentary processes, including tidal behaviour, freshwater inputs, water balance, mixing, exchange with the Tasman Sea, catchment geology and geomorphological characteristics, sediment movement, sedimentation rates, and sediment types and entrance stability) and interactions (e.g. establishment of the water quality parameters (physical, chemical and biological) of importance to the health of the Lagoons, evaluation of mixing and flushing of pollutants, preparation of a nutrient budget), through investigation and data collection and comprehensive analysis (eg modelling).
To identify and document the biological functioning of the Lagoons and related processes covering flora and fauna, species composition and distribution; the productivity and health of the ecosystems; the range and sensitivity of habitats; and rare and endangered species.
To define baseline conditions of the estuarine processes and interactions on which management decisions can be made.
To review the existing and strategic land use activities that may potentially impact upon the management needs of the Lagoons.
To undertake any further data collection or monitoring to aid the subsequent stages of an estuary management study and formulating an estuary management plan for the Lagoons.
The following documents are available for download
Coastal Zone Management Plan for Gosford’s Coastal Lagoons
Council has been successful in gaining $75,000 grant funding under the NSW Governments Estuary Management Program 2010/11for the development of the Lagoons Management Study and Plan.
Community consultation is an essential component of the estuarine management process. A quality Coastal Lagoons Management Plan will depend largely on the knowledge, involvement and support of the local community. Accordingly, community consultation and participation is an integral element of the planning process. Council will be actively seeking community, user group and stakeholder feedback to assist in Plan development.
Gosford City Council has worked with other government bodies, research organizations and the community to develop the draft Gosford Coastal Lagoons Coastal Zone Management Study which will be made available for public review and comment between 1 December 2012 and 1 March 2013.
The draft Study guides Council and the community in the development of a Plan to appropriately manage activities in and around the lagoons, guide conservation and rehabilitation efforts and ensure people understand the importance of the coastal lagoons for the wellbeing of the region. The Study builds upon the extensive scientific research presented in the Coastal Lagoons Estuary Processes Study developed in 2010. It has been developed through discussions with the communities who live, work and play in the coastal lagoon catchments.
Coastal lagoons are dynamic living entities and an important part of the natural environment. These systems support a range of recreational pursuits while also providing habitat for a wide range of animals and plants. However, Gosford’s coastal lagoons are under pressure through changes to human activities and our use of the surrounding land and creeks flowing into them. Improved planning aims to provide a balance between environmental protection and human activities.
Gosford City Council will be hosting a series of community information sessions on:
Wednesday 5 December at Terrigal SLSC from 6pm – 8pm
Wednesday 12 December at Copacabana SLSC from 6pm – 8pm
Wednesday 6 February at Terrigal SLSC from 6pm – 8pm
Wednesday 13 February at Avoca SLSC from 6pm – 8pm
The exhibition period for the draft Gosford Coastal Lagoons Coastal Zone Management Study is from Saturday 1 December 2012 until Friday 1 March 2013.
A copy of the draft Study will be on public exhibition at Erina, Kincumber and Woy Woy Libraries and Council’s administration building at 49 Mann St, Gosford. It is also available online at http://search.gosford.nsw.gov.au/ and www.haveyoursaygosford.com.au
Comments on the draft Study can be:
The General Manager
Gosford City Council
Attention: Tim Macdonald, Acting Manager Integrated Planning
PO Box 21
Gosford NSW 2250
For further information about the draft Study, contact Council’s Acting Manager Integrated Planning, Tim Macdonald on (02) 4304 7658.
Pearl Beach Lagoon Coastal Zone Management Plan
Pearl Beach Lagoon is a special landscape feature with ecological and localised visual significance in an area that does not have any other alternative substitute for the role that the Lagoon plays in the local ecosystem. The lagoon is an example of the small enclosed saline coastal lagoons which occur along the coast of south-eastern Australia.
However, since urban development the habitat value of the lagoon has declined. This is in response to pressures such as urban runoff, modifications to the natural movement of water (e.g. the weir, drainage channels, groundwater extraction)and weed invasion. These issues are likely to be exacerbated into the future as a result of population increase, climate change impacts and projected rises in mean sea level as well as the cumulative effects of past practices.
The wetland condition and its preservation is of concern to Council and the residents of Pearl Beach. Council, in conjunction with NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, is looking to develop a Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) to assess the health of Pearl Beach Lagoon, engage the local community in contributing to the management process and identify management options based upon sound scientific research.
Your input is important in driving future management of the Lagoon and we encourage you to be involved in the process.
Objectives of the Plan
The objectives for the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) for Pearl Beach Lagoon are to:
- Maintain the condition of high value coastal ecosystems; rehabilitate priority degraded coastal ecosystems.
- To protect and restore the natural lagoon’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
- Address the current and future potential risks to lagoon health.
- Protect and preserve lagoon amenity, maintain and improve public access arrangements to foreshores, support recreational uses and protect the cultural and heritage environment.
- Consider the effects of climate change, including sea level rise, on coastal hazards, ecosystem health and community uses
- Base decisions for managing risks on the best available information and reasonable practice, including adopting an adaptive management approach.
- Link Councils coastal zone management planning with other planning processes in the coastal zone to facilitate integrated coastal zone management.
- Involve the community in the preparation of the CZMP, including making information relating to the plan publically available.
- The CZMP will adopt a risk management approach to managing risks to public safety and assets and pressures on coastal ecosystems; including avoiding risks where feasible and mitigation where risks cannot be reasonable avoided; adopting interim actions to manage high risks while long-term options are implemented.
- Management actions in the CZMP will be prioritised based on public benefit, including cost-effectively achieving the best practical long-term outcomes.
We seek your help!
If you are aware of any research, studies, old photographs or surveys that have been taken in the Pearl Beach Lagoon catchment please let us know… by emailing:
For more information please log on to the consultation hub:
A community forum was held on Saturday 19 May about the Lagoon Management Plan which provided a fantastic turn out of residents from all areas of Pearl Beach not just those directly abutting the Lagoon – as it should be as the Lagoon is a community asset that is pivotal to the health of the Pearl Beach environment.