EAST Boambee's pretty Spoonbill Lake has found itself at the centre of a less attractive controversy over how to handle the lake's fluctuating levels.
The 2009 flood saw water levels upstream of the lake swamp some homes and villas, causing expensive problems for owners.
Now insurers are refusing to renew flood cover for those residents, who are blaming Coffs Harbour City Council for raising the one in 100-year flood level and accusing it of failing to maintain the man-made lake.
Among them is Peter Lubrano, part-owner of a group of villas inundated by water in 2009. Mr Lubrano faced a $120,000 bill to repair his Linden Ave villas, as well as a long and stiff fight with his insurance company.
Now he has been refused further flood insurance cover.
Nearby Sunbird Cres resident Guy Butler has watched the water that inundates the land behind his home creep closer and closer to his house with each succeeding flood.
Pepperman Rd resident Barbara Grullis has watched weeds, reeds, sedge grasses and even trees colonise what was once a stretch of open water behind her home.
As siltation and vegetation makes the lake shallower, its area expands during heavy rain.
The residents say the lake is damaging their properties and eroding property values.
After a 78-signature petition from residents, councillor Rodney Degens recently supported a move for a half-metre deep trench to be dug through Spoonbill Lake's exit weir to take water away faster during flooding rain.
His motion did not gain majority support but council staff are now moving to prepare a management plan for the lake.
For Mr Lubrano, there is extra irony in these problems because before his retirement he worked for the company which subdivided the Pepperman estate and he has an aerial photograph from about 1980 showing open paddocks of dry land on the site now occupied by Spoonbill Lake.
The lake was created to deal with drainage water from the residential estate and guide it towards Boambee Creek.
Mr Lubrano said the original recommendation from the company's consultant was for a concrete-floored dish drain with grassed sides within mowed parkland, the same design to remove stormwater used in nearby Lady Belmore Drive.