Effort to drain stagnated lake before properties flood
IT'S been a battle between man and nature and one that can only be won if the ocean gives in.
Coffs Harbour City Council crews have this week repeatedly excavated a channel to drain the height of the stagnated and swollen Woolgoolga Lake.
Upstream and residents in the Sunset Caravan Park have watched nervously as Jarrett Creek - a tributary flowing into Woolgoolga Creek and the lake - flowed over properties.
What has been faced is an uphill battle, Coffs Harbour City Council's Director of Sustainable Infrastructure Mick Raby explained as the ocean at high tide under 4-metre swell has stood at 2.1m in height on the beach and the level of the lake at just 1.6m high.
"We have had a long arm excavator and a front end loader moving tonnes of sand and a berm was made on the beach to stop water punching back into the lake on the high tides," Mr Raby said.
"The channel has been dug three times, but with swell conditions falling and based on weather forecasts we think we have overcome the crux of the matter and levels in the lake should get better from here."
He said while NSW DPI Marine Parks manages the lake, the council had negotiated permission to excavate a channel to mitigate flooding to properties.
"We have been only allowed to dig a channel to the 1.6 metre level, the lake normally stands at 1.5m but it has risen up to 1.9m this week where people were starting to get their feet wet particularly around the caravan park," Mr Raby said
Standing in water outside his home, park resident Peter Holland said common-sense dictates "the lake should be drained at a height of 1.3m."
"It's only a couple of metres off our front fence now, we've been flooded twice and it's been an issue for 10 years - this system should be tidal again," he said.
In technical terms, Woolgoolga Lake is an ICOLL or Intermittently Closed and Open Lake or Lagoon and given it's ecologically sensitive, there are strict environmental controls the council must abide by when draining the lake, which can remain closed to the ocean for up to a year.
As for this upcoming king tide and supermoon, the council said the lake should be right provided large seas don't eventuate as well.