Central Coast Council votes to call on past studies to guide its efforts to find long-term solution to The Entrance channel and Tuggerah Lakes problems

OVERFLOW: Memorial Park at The Entrance on Tuesday. The water level subsided the following day, after council created a second channel opening to the sea. Many communities remain affected by floods this week. Picture: Ben Stewart
OVERFLOW: Memorial Park at The Entrance on Tuesday. The water level subsided the following day, after council created a second channel opening to the sea. Many communities remain affected by floods this week. Picture: Ben Stewart

EMOTIONS ran high at the Central Coast Council meeting in Gosford last night as flood-affected residents took aim at the council over its handling of The Entrance channel and Tuggerah Lakes.

The residents were calling for a permanent solution to the problem of siltation in The Entrance channel.

The sand build-up has been blamed for adding to the severity of the current flooding.

Owner of The Entrance Boat Shed, Toni Moon, whose business had been "absolutely trashed" by the flood, led the charge.

"We want immediate action. Doing nothing and saying the water is fine is no longer an option," Ms Moon said.

"You are a council at risk of class action law suits."

She slammed the council for voting down a motion in 2018 for the council to buy a dredge, and blocking other requests for actions to enhance the amenity of the estuary.

"Why do you keep voting against this?" she said.

"Take your political BS out of our council. It doesn't belong here."

Cr Greg Best described Ms Moon's address as "the best I've heard in all my time at the council".

There is a push in the community for a breakwall to be built in the channel, to increase the flow of water between the lakes and the ocean.

The former Wyong Council previously said the science did not support the construction of a breakwall in the channel.

Mayor Lisa Matthews had her hands full dealing with people interjecting from the gallery.

She sought to "correct the misinformation" in the community that council was opposed to maintaining the channel.

"This council has always supported dredging in the channel," she said.

"As recently as December we unanimously endorsed a roundtable of experts which is happening on the 16th of March, and to pursue funding from the state government to dredge the channel."

Such funding had not yet been made available, she said.

Council on Tuesday afternoon dug a second opening in the channel to the sea, and residents reported a subsequent drop in flood levels around their homes.

Cr Bruce McLachlan called for council to take immediate action towards a permanent fix, but reminded the gallery that the channel was a "state-owned asset".

The council considered a motion raised by Cr McLachlan and Cr Best seeking, among other things, funding for a 2020 sand dredging program, and for preliminary designs for a breakwall.

The motion also called on council not to pursue prosecution, and not to encourage state authorities to prosecute, the man accused of using an excavator on Sunday to help locals dig a second outlet at The Entrance channel to enable floodwaters to escape faster.

Councillors proposed a number of amendments which were passed, and ultimately became the successful motion.

As the amendments piled up, and debate about their wording continued, Cr Best's frustration grew.

He observed "we're bogging ourselves down, as we have for decades".

He said the council had been "hijacked", had lost its way, and had wasted money and opportunities.

Hargraves Street at The Entrance, as viewed from the bridge. Picture: David Stewart

Hargraves Street at The Entrance, as viewed from the bridge. Picture: David Stewart

"I shouldn't have to stand here and plead," he said.

"It's bleeding obvious what we need to do. We need to dredge now. Show me the dredge!"

Essentially, council voted to call on studies from 2013 and 2015 to guide its efforts to find a long-term solution to flooding and water quality issues in Tuggerah Lakes.

"Finding the best solution is a difficult and complex challenge and we are committed to getting it right," Cr Matthews said.

"That requires us to look at the studies that have been conducted into the area, and to also seek funding support from other levels of government.

"This is a time to work hand-in-hand with the community and all stakeholders.

"The solution may well be expensive and while dredging may help in the short term, we need to plan and act for the long term."

In other news

Comments