Water quality in Lake Macquarie is the best it has been since annual monitoring began more than 20 years ago.
A monitoring program undertaken monthly last financial year found that all but one of seven zones across the lake and its major tributaries achieved the highest possible overall grade.
Swansea Channel, Fennell Bay, Dora Creek and the south-west, south-east and north zones all achieved an “A” grading.
Cockle Creek was the only zone that did not achieve an “A”.
However, its “B” grade still marked a vast improvement on the “F” posted when initially tested under the current system, in 2011-2012.
Lake Macquarie City Council planning and sustainability manager, Alice Howe, said council had spent millions of dollars in and around the estuary in the past seven years on projects to improve water quality, prevent erosion, and improve biodiversity.
“These range from rehabilitating wetlands in Cockle Creek to installing stormwater quality improvement devices (SQIDs) in the catchment,” Dr Howe said.
This year’s result is fantastic news, but there is always more to be done.- Dr Alice Howe
“Our work with the development sector and local communities has also been critical to this achievement, as catchment runoff directly affects lake water quality.
“The latest results are a reminder of how our efforts as a community working together are having a very real and tangible positive effect on our environment.”
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Dr Howe said the Lake Macquarie sampling program allowed assessment of both long- and short-term water quality variations.
Council contracts the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Estuaries and Catchments Team to carry out the testing. Turbidity, the extent of seagrass beds and levels of chlorophyll-a – which in high concentrations usually indicates poor water quality – were used to gauge overall water quality.
“Together, these three measurements are considered reliable indicators of estuary ecological health,” Dr Howe said.
“This year’s result is fantastic news, but there is always more to be done.
“Council will continue to take measures to improve the lake environment and encourage everyone within the lake catchment to play a role,” she said.