Lake Illawarra And Warilla Beach Capital Works
LAKE ILLAWARRA AND WARILLA BEACH CAPITAL WORKS
Mr HARRISON (Kiama) [7.06]: On 6 December 1995 I voiced my concern about the permanent entrance to Lake Illawarra and the potential for flooding of residential areas around the lake during prolonged heavy rain when the entrance is closed. Creation of a permanent entrance has been one of the highest priorities of the Lake Illawarra Management Authority since it was formed in 1988. Indeed, it is believed that a permanent opening is the single most important project in the authority’s current and future works program. This belief is borne out by nine studies carried out between 1992 and 1996. I shall not mention all of those studies, but those of particular relevance are the Lake Illawarra Authority Value Management Report, 1992; Lake Illawarra Entrance Improvement Concept Design Report, 1992; Lake Illawarra Entrance - A Management Assessment of the Existing Training Wall, 1992; Lake Illawarra Entrance Improvement Hydraulic Numerical Modelling, 1994; Lake Illawarra Entrance Improvement and Environmental Impact Statement, 1994; Clause 91 Report on Responses to Environmental Impact Statement, 1995; and Lake Illawarra Entrance Improvement Options Economic Appraisal, 1995.
Major community concerns centre around the need to reduce flood hazards and to improve lake water quality. The material that has accumulated over the years indicates that flood levels around the lake are significantly influenced by the condition of the entrance. At present there is a considerable amount of eutrophication as a result of nutrient build-up and the lake’s inability to effectively flush itself. The EIS for entrance improvement establishes firmly that the environmental benefit from a permanent entrance heavily outweighs any adverse impacts, would reduce lake flood levels and produce better water quality through increased tidal flows and flushing. The current estimated cost of the entrance project is $4.2 million. It is considered that the work is eligible for financial assistance under the Government’s estuary management program on a dollar-for-dollar basis with local government. I am advised that Wollongong and Shellharbour councils have made budgetary provision to meet their share of the cost and are ready to commit $2.1 million towards the cost of the project. State funding totalling $2.1 million is required to proceed with the project. After 10 years of discussions, consultations et cetera, the community and both councils expect funding will be forthcoming from the State Government.
What we are asking for is an immediate announcement concerning the allocation of financial assistance, which could be spread over a two-year or three-year period. In addition to the matters that I have raised tonight I refer to the important question of the renourishment of Warilla Beach. Standing at the top of the beach at times of high tides is like standing at the breakwater of Port Kembla harbour. The beach has disappeared completely. In the late 1960s council found it necessary to establish rock armouring to prevent homes from falling into the sea. From time to time that rock armouring has been topped up. Expert opinion suggests that, in a one-in-100-year storm, an eastern gale could cause that wall to breach, many homes would be lost and considerable damage would be caused to Warilla township. Only a thin frontal dune stands between the town of Warilla and the Pacific Ocean. If that breaches it will cost billions of dollars to repair the damage that will be caused. These questions - beach renourishment, the trapping of sand, which is moving from south to north because of littoral drift, and a tie-wall to link the mainland with Windang Island - are incredibly important. The Government must match the financial contribution that has been made over a period of years by Wollongong and Shellharbour councils. They are ready to commence this work. Any hesitancy on the part of the Government will cause concern to local residents and prolong the risk of the breaching of rock armouring at Warilla Beach. [Time expired.]
Mr KNOWLES (Moorebank - Minister for Urban Affairs and Planning, and Minister for Housing) [7.11]: Once again the honourable member for Kiama has demonstrated his commitment and his determination to obtain for his constituents some answers to the Warilla Beach problem. He has also identified the need for a permanent entrance to Lake Illawarra - a matter that has been debated ad nauseam. We must stop the analysis and get on with the work. The commitment by both Wollongong and Shellharbour councils demonstrates local community support for the commencement of this important work. I acknowledge that this matter comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Land and Water Conservation. However, the establishment of a permanent entrance to Lake Illawarra goes beyond that portfolio; it will have an impact on the environment. The honourable member for Kiama referred to important issues such as the impact of floods and putrification on the environment. There are important advantages to be gained from proceeding with this work. I undertake on behalf of the honourable member for Kiama and the people he represents so ably to draw this matter to the attention of the Minister for Land and Water Conservation. I hope that these matters will be quickly resolved in the not too distant future.