Lake Curalo health in focus, clean-up day, field walk

Eden's Lake Curalo was manually opened to the ocean in July 2020. Photo: Phill Small Photography
Eden's Lake Curalo was manually opened to the ocean in July 2020. Photo: Phill Small Photography

The health of Eden's Lake Curalo has been of concern for many years.

Initiated by community members, a clean-up day is happening around Lake Curalo on Saturday, May 29, an opportunity for locals to pitch in and retrieve rubbish around the coastal estuary, much of which is hidden by vegetation.

Eden Community Access Centre organised the event following a successful community environment grant application to Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC), which was awarded in 2020 but delayed because of the pandemic.

While extended dry periods in the region depleted water levels, resulting in unpleasant odours and poor health of the coastal estuary overall, recent heavy rainfall has also had its own consequences.

BVSC said it has undertaken water quality sampling at Lake Curalo on four occasions over the last 18 months in response to incidents or community concern.

Coastal management officer Rachel Duczynski said most recently BVSC completed post-rainfall sampling in March to better understand water quality of runoff from multiple drainage lines and tributaries around the catchment.

"Post-rainfall sampling of inflows allows council to narrow down potential areas in the catchment contributing nutrients, sediments or contaminants to the lake and help guide future management," Ms Duczynski said.

Extended dry periods in the past depleted water levels of Lake Curalo, which resulted in unpleasant odours and poor health of the coastal estuary overall.

Extended dry periods in the past depleted water levels of Lake Curalo, which resulted in unpleasant odours and poor health of the coastal estuary overall.

Sampling was focused on nutrients, metals and hydrocarbons as the main contaminants of concern, based on historical data.

"As expected, given the high flows experienced with the heavy rainfall in late March, nutrients and suspended solids were elevated at all sites," Ms Duczynski said.

"Council is awaiting a full report by the consultant, however, initial results indicated nutrient inputs were particularly elevated on the urbanised, western edge of the lake."

BVSC said the Draft Lake Curalo Coastal Management Program is currently under development, due to be completed towards the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, also scheduled to take place this month is a saltmarsh field walk organised by Far South Coast Conservation Management Network, at a a private property on Lake Curalo in Eden.

Saltmarsh helps act as a buffer between the catchment and the lake, trapping sediment and nutrients and helping to maintain water quality.

Coastal saltmarsh is a significant, endangered ecological community occurring in the high tide zones of coastal lakes and estuaries and provides food and habitat and for fish and other fauna in addition to filtering nutrients, reducing erosion and playing a role as an important carbon sink.

Diverse species will be encountered on the field walk, including sedges, rushes, reeds, grasses, succulent herbs and low shrubs that can tolerate high soil salinity.

"The establishment of the walking track and boardwalk around the lake has provided protection to the saltmarsh areas by limiting access, with the key threats to the saltmarsh communities at Lake Curalo being maintenance and mowing of reserves, drainage lines and private properties," Ms Duczynski said.

The clean-up day on May 29 runs from 9am until 2pm and will include a barbecue thanks to ESSCI, a raffle for Eden Public School and giveaways. All personal protective equipment will be provided. If you'd like to participate, contact the Eden Community Access Centre on 6496 3970.

The field walk on Monday, May 17 from 9.30am until 12.30pm is free and morning tea is provided. For bookings visit Eventbrite.

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