The Big Picture

This page deals with our wider environmental strategies. It's also the place to find environmental plans, reports and research documents, which are available for you to look at.

Many of these projects have been made possible through Great Lakes Council's Environmental and Dredging Special Levy This Levy allows us to undertake environmental and dredging projects (such as those described below) as well as attract dollar for dollar funding from State and Federal Government agencies, further increasing its value to the Great Lakes community.

Rather than reacting to environmental problems as they arise, Council is developing strategic plans to guide the management and protection of the unique natural resources that we have here in the Great Lakes.  The key documents that underpin Council's fieldwork and allocation of resources are identified below.

On this page:

Karuah River Catchment Management Plan

The plan aims to maintain and improve the health of the Karuah River and its Catchment. It's a diverse catchment, with the headwaters of the river in the Barrington Tops National Park, whilst the river mouth forms part of the Port Stephens Estuary.

The Plan uses scientific data from the Karuah River ecological health assessment, along with community knowledge to guide future management. The key elements of the plan are water, landscape, production and community, and resilient ecosystems.

Karuah River Ecological Condition Assessment

The first stage in preparing the catchment management plan for the Karuah River was a benchmark assessment of the health of the river. The benchmark was used in collaboration with local knowledge to inform the preparation of the Catchment Management Plan.

Wallis Lake Estuary and Catchment Management Plan

This plan provides a detailed picture of the state of the Wallis Lake Estuary and its Catchment. The Plan addresses issues regarding the social, cultural, environmental, recreational and commercial values of the lake, its waterways and catchment. 

Wallis Lake Navigation Dredging

Maintenance dredging to enable safe navigation is essential in the Great Lakes. Before any dredging takes place, we have to consider and assess the likely environmental impacts it may have and also how and where the dredge spoil will be placed and managed.

These three reports provide an overview of key sites for future dredging in Wallis Lake, as well as an assessment of the potential impact. As dredged channels will refill with sand and sediment over time, these reports also provide recommendations for when future maintenance dredging should take place.

Lower Myall River Estuary Study (2011)

We looked at estuary health, sediment and hydrodynamics to provide core information on the natural processes at work in the lower Myall River. This allows us to make informed decisions for the future management of the estuary.

Sediment & Hydrodynamic Assessment of the Lower Myall River Estuary and Preparation of Management Recommendations:

Pindimar and Bundabah Foreshore Erosion Study

Upper Pindimar, Pindimar, Lower Pindimar and Bundabah are located on the northern shoreline of Port Stephens Estuary within the Great Lakes Council Local Government Area.This study investigated foreshore erosion issues along these shorelines. 

Waterway and Catchment Report Card (and Full Technical Reports)

These Report Cards outline the ecological health of our waterways and are intended to read like a school report card, grading our waterways from A to F.  The grades indicate how our waterways compare to other sites across New South Wales.

Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy

Adopted by Great Lakes Council in 2010, the strategy sets out the vision, guiding principles and actions to protect, manage, and where required, restore wetlands across the Wallis Lake Catchment.

Wetlands are very important systems. They provide habitats for special plants and animals, and contribute to water quality protection by filtering out sediments and other pollutants. As the strategic management of wetlands is so important, the implementation of the Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy is a crucial Council action.

Through the Karuah River Catchment Management Plan (2015), Council agreed also to manage the wetlands of the Karuah Catchment in the manner described in the Wallis Lake Wetlands Strategy.

Forster Keys Management Plan

The plan provides comprehensive details on what is permitted within the drainage reserve by residents.  Residents who have jetty structures on Council's drainage reserve are now required to enter into a formal licence agreement with Council.  Residents who have current structural issues with their revetment walls may now make application to Council to undertake major repairs or replacement walls.

Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP)

The Great Lakes Water Quality Improvement Plan outlines the water quality improvement actions required to protect and rehabilitate Wallis, Smiths and Myall Lakes.

Darawakh / Frogalla Wetland Management Plan

The Darawakh Creek/ Frogalla Swamp Wetland is a coastal floodplain wetland located between Tuncurry and Blackhead. Between the 1950s and the 1980s it was extensively cleared and drained for agriculture. These works exposed the natural acid sulphate soil layers, resulting in severe acid generation and discharge to the Wallamba River. The problem was comparable to the outputs of a toxic waste site. With thousands of years of acid production potential, extensive remediation was required to safeguard the quality and productivity of the landscape and river. We began the remediation process in 2003 and have achieved significant improvements through on-ground works.

Port Stephens / Myall Lakes Estuary Management Plan

The plan was developed to address water quality issues within Myall Lake and the surrounding environment. 

Smiths Lake Estuary Coastal Zone Management Plan

We developed this plan with the intent of achieving an integrated, balanced, responsible and ecologically sustainable use of the lake.

The Department of Industry & Investment has more information about lakes like Smiths Lake, which open and close to the sea. They are known as 'ICOLLs'. The information includes policies and guidelines for their management. Take a look at Management of coastal lakes and lagoons in NSW.

We get a lot of enquiries regarding the "opening" of Smiths Lake to the sea when the Lake Level is high. We will place notification on the news section of this website when we are planning to open Smiths Lake. Opening is generally planned for levels of 2.1m. You are also able to monitor the lake levels yourself via the Manly Hydraulics Laboratory website. (Click on the 'Level 1' parameter and compare this to the 2.1m target level).

Mid Wallamba River Rivercare Plan

This Plan has been produced to assist landholders with the conservation and rehabilitation of the Mid Wallamba River, Firefly Creek and lower Khoribakh Creek.

Lower Wallamba River Rivercare Plan

The Rivercare Plan was developed to address erosion issues within the lower Wallamba River.

State of the Environment (SoE) Report

This report provides an overall picture of the health of the Great Lakes environment and serves to identify key environmental trends.

Vegetation Mapping

We are currently working on detailed local vegetation description and mapping. This is a very important tool for conservation management, strategic planning and development assessment.  It's time-consuming and intensive.

Council is also working collaboratively with the Hunter Councils Environment Division with regard to regional vegetation mapping.  When map products and reports become available, they will be presented on this website and made available to the public.  In time, when sufficient data has been collated, a Vegetation Strategy for the Great Lakes area will be produced.

Environmental and Dredging Special Levy

The Environmental Special Levy was introduced in 2001 and was renewed in 2004 and 2009 with strong community support.  In 2009 the Levy increased by 1% to allow the funding of dredging programs that Council had been unable to finance from its ordinary budget.

The Levy has allowed for many successful and award winning projects across the Great Lakes and has also permitted Council to attract dollar for dollar funding, further increasing its value to the Great Lakes community.

Landfill Water Monitoring Data

Recently introduced changes to environmental protection legislation as a result of the amendment of the Protection of the Environment Legislation Act 2011, requires Council to publish groundwater, surface water, leachate and landfill gas monitoring data from our landfill sites.

Current monitoring data results on all Great Lakes Council landfill facilities is provided below.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) website holds full licence details and past annual returns, you can search using the licence numbers provided below.

Council Facility 

E.P Licence No. 

Current Monthly Data 

Tuncurry Waste Management Centre
Tip Road, Tuncurry

Bore Locations(PDF, 362KB)

Tuncurry Landfill Water Quality(PDF, 212KB) 
Tea Gardens Landfill & Recycling Centre
25 Wanya Road, Tea Gardens

 13111 Sampled 27/8/14(PDF, 456KB)
Bulahdelah Landfill
Pacific Highway, Bulahdelah

 13109 Bulahdelah Landfill Water Quality(PDF, 448KB)
Stroud Waste Facility
Simmsville Road, Stroud

 13110 Stroud Landfill Water Quality(PDF, 459KB) 
Great Lakes Waste Centre (Minimbah) 
Aerodrome Road, Minimbah

 12885 Great Lakes Waste Centre LandfillWater Quality(PDF, 456KB)