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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Should Tallow Creek mouth be opened?

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Algae covering flooded Tallow Creek, near Byron at Byron resort in July 2018. Photo Leon Norman

For several months Echonetdaily has been fielding calls from Suffolk Park residents whose properties adjoin Tallow Creek, complaining the high water levels, flooding and lack of beach access.

Now Byron Shire Council is looking to do something about it. But no, they’re not going to open the creek mouth… yet. First they have to get permission from the state government – and so they’re calling on locals to have their say in a survey, now online.

Water levels in Tallow Creek have been high for more than eight weeks because of rain in May-June this year.

The community concern about flooding has prompted Byron Shire Council to review the existing management strategy for the waterway.

Council’s coastal and biodiversity officer, Chloe Dowsett, said Tallow Creek is an ‘Intermittently Closed or Open Lake or Lagoon, or ICOLL, which, while it periodically opens and closes to the ocean naturally, is closed most of the time’.

‘As water builds up in the creek after heavy rain flooding of backyards and walking paths occurs, however, in previous years the length of flooding until the mouth naturally breaches over the beach berm (sand bar) is generally only a couple of weeks’, Ms Dowsett said.

‘Since 2004 Council has only had to open the creek once, so the situation at the moment is very unusual and it has prompted Council to look at the Environmental Management Plan and Opening Strategy.

‘For example, the strategy does not identify a trigger for how long private property may be flooded for and this may be contemplated in close consultation with NSW Government agencies and the community,’ Ms Dowsett said.

‘Council has a licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Service and DPI Fisheries to open the mouth of the creek but only when water levels reach a certain height (2.2m or above) or if the water quality poses a concern to human health.

‘Despite extensive testing and monitoring neither of these things have occurred yet,’ she said.

Council is asking all residents in the Suffolk Park area, and people who walk or ride in the Tallow Creek area to do an online survey.

The survey can be found at www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/admin/projects/tallow-creek-opening-strategy.  It closes on September 14.


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  1. The People who developed the wetlands in the 90s, and, as I remember it , won a design award for doing so ,could hang their heads in shame at the desecration caused by this development in this fragile area. Unfortunately Greed once again won the day and the mess has to be dealt with . As far as I am concerned the decision on what to do about it now should be in the hands of the Indigenous Custodians of the land and the people whom they choose to advise them on the science of the problem created by Ignorance.
    I lived with my family,in a little round house on the edge of the wetlands in Azolla Place in the early 90s .It was clear that we lived on the edge of the beginning of the true wetlands, It was beautiful. I was friendly with an Elder Auntie Lorraine and was having what I have since termed, my Black Eye opened by her teachings and visions for country and Culture. We would regularly do ceremony for protection of the wetlands. from development and I believe succeeded for a few years.Eventually we moved away. Anyone with both eyes open could have seen that the area was one of immense beauty and fragility ,and totally unsuitable for development. What the developers caused with their heavy handed insensitivity ( for which Environmental awards were received,) we are witnessing today . ………Shame .

    Walking through the area last year after the fish kill at the mouth of tallows creek I felt the deadness and was appalled as I hadn’t walked that way for a while. (there were signs advising you not to …….. shame???)

    I look forward to the day, which I believe will come eventually , when we Honour, Acknowledge and Thank the Ancestors of the land and mean it. . We listen to what they have to say and the decision making is out of the hands of the Illegal government which we suffer under and the Greed which they promote .(google Mark McMurtrie on the illegality of this government o f Australia)
    Intelligence is to be found int the people who listen to the land and live connected to it . While we allow Greed and money to be the ruler we will continue to create chaos and degradation like this . Let this be a lesson too for those who think that the wetlands at West Byon should be developed.
    (and by the way I never did get my silver watch and towel back which was stolen from the mouth of the creek while I was walking on the beach with my family. ) Matijo Beams

  2. I agree with the former comment wholeheartedly. Development kills. I spend a lot of time in the US and you should see the South coast dead zone, beach area. If Developers lead, that is where we will go. When the higher tides come and the floods and the rising sea level there will be no development from this era that will survive.


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