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Council trials tidal flaps at Marks Point

Opinion piece in Newcastle Herald: Let's manage our coastal and flooding risks


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Thanks to everyone who braved the wet weather and joined us at the Swansea Belmont Surf Club to experience virtual reality of ongoing sea level rise and future flooding. We received lots of ideas on how we can start planning for the future, now.

The project team is now preparing the next hard copy project newsletter, to provide you with an update on community ideas to date. This will include details on the next workshop, in which we will explore the long list of ideas put forward by the community to manage coastal and flooding risks now and into the future.



Council trials tidal flaps at Marks Point

Council is asking Marks Point residents for assistance in monitoring the effectiveness of two tidal valves, which Council will soon be installing to help manage tidal inundation in the suburb.

Council’s Acting Manager Sustainability, Dean Chapman, said Council is trialling two types of valves to see if they can help manage tidal inundation and rising lake levels in low-lying areas around the lake.

“The tidal valves that will be attached to stormwater outlets in Village Bay Close and Marks Parade are designed to stop water from the lake flowing up the pipeline and onto the road during high tides or at other times when the lake level is higher than usual,” Mr Chapman said.

“They also allow stormwater coming from the street during storms to flow through the valve and into the lake as usual.

“During the trial period, we are asking local residents to help us assess the effectiveness of the tidal valves. Over the next 12 months, we want residents to report or send photos to Council anytime they see water covering areas of Marks Parade, Village Bay Close, Swan Street or Cygnet Street. This way we can compare the areas of Village Bay Close and Marks Parade where we have installed tidal valves to areas where we haven’t.”

To join the monitoring network or make a report, email or call Council on 4921 0333.

The tidal valve trial is part of the implementation of the Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan and is a NSW Government funded project through the Building Resilience to Climate Change Program.

While the valves are expected to help manage tidal inundation and rising lake levels in low-lying areas around the lake, they have not been designed to prevent flooding from larger lake floods like the June 2007 ‘Pasha Bulker’ storm and will not prevent nuisance flooding from stormwater coming into yards and the street during storms.



Opinion Piece in Newcastle Herald: Let's manage our coastal and erosion risks

Last month’s east coast low was a stark reminder of the force of nature.  We watched with horror as images of people’s homes teetering on the eroded beachfront at Collaroy flooded our news channels and social media feeds.

Perhaps, like me, you felt a deep sense of unease as those swimming pools, sheds and fences fell into the sea. It seemed the Australian dream of living on our beautiful coastline was itself being eroded, along with property values for some of our most sought after real estate.

While these troubling scenes unfolded in June, just ninety minutes’ drive to the north, residents in the low-lying areas of Marks Point and Belmont South were responding to an invitation to participate in a 12-month trial of tidal valves designed to reduce inundation of low-lying land. By sending updates any time they see water covering areas of four flood-prone local streets, residents will help build knowledge about the effectiveness of these devices.

Although this action is small, it is significant. The involvement of the community in this trial is one of the first signs of work to implement the Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan: a set of actions designed to allow people to continue to live and build in these areas as sea and lake levels rise. The adaptation plan was developed through a collaborative process that Lake Macquarie City Council initiated with the Marks Point and Belmont South community back in 2013. It is one of the first sea level rise adaptation plans to be developed in Australia at a local level.

This week, the plan’s development was recognised as the ‘Best National Case Study in Coastal Adaptation’ in Australia at the Climate Change Adaptation 2016 Conference in Adelaide, hosted by the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and the CSIRO.  

The award is a great achievement, although it is not the first time the project has received recognition. In 2015, Lake Macquarie City received the prestigious IAP2 Australasia Core Values Award for its approach to developing the adaptation plan, hand in hand with local residents. 

To my thinking, an adaptation plan is much like a scheduled service plan for a car. Both are designed to keep assets functioning longer, ensure they are safe for people to use and protect their value over time.

On that note, another small but significant thing happened last month. Hunter Region Economic Indicators for the last quarter showed that the median house price in Lake Macquarie has pulled ahead of the rest of the Hunter. We know that factors such as aspect, views, and direct water frontage are strong drivers of property value, and that Lake Macquarie City has these in abundance, but the desire to dwell close to water often involves some risks.

Australia’s coastal communities have a proud history, and we can build on this to develop effective, forward-looking strategies to manage the growing risks of flooding and coastal erosion. This means working with developers, homeowners and residents at a local level to help them stay safe and make informed decisions about their property.

If we are to maintain and enhance our coastal communities, we must face uncertainty and get on with the task of building resilience to changing conditions.

Council is inviting residents from Pelican and Blacksmiths to help plan for the future of the area.


Dr Alice Howe is Executive Manager Business Development at Lake Macquarie City Council.

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Pelican and Blacksmiths Local Adaptation Planning

Marks Point and Belmont South Local Adaptation Plan