Tallow Creek has opened to the ocean

A view of the wetland from Tallow Footbridge. To the right is Byron Council’s former sewage works. Photo Mary Gardner.

Overnight the mouth of Tallow Creek at Suffolk Park opened and water is now flowing into the ocean.

Yesterday afternoon Byron Shire Council used a small excavator to scrape the sandbar at Tallow Creek to a height just above the water level to aid the creek mouth to open naturally because water levels have been high for several months, causing flooding in some people’s yards and limiting access to the beach.

Council is licensed by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and DPI Fisheries to scrape the sandbar when it exceeds 2.2m.

James Flockton, Byron Shire Council’s Drainage and Flood Engineer, said that when staff left the beach late yesterday afternoon the creek mouth was still closed but overnight rain saw water levels rise and break the bank.

‘The water level in the creek yesterday afternoon was 2.18m and the sandbar was scraped to 2.2m so a five-millimetre increase in the water level because of the rain was enough to push it over the edge,’ Mr Flockton said.

‘Council worked with NPWS and DPI Fisheries yesterday to lower the level of the sandbar and we will now be closely monitoring the movement of water in Tallow Creek as the high tides and swell push in ocean water,’ he said.

‘One of the things we are very conscious of is the potential for a fish kill event because of the declining water quality in Tallow Creek.

‘The incoming flush of fresh water should reduce this risk,’ Mr Flockton said.

‘If the creek had not opened naturally Council was planning to submit a request to NPWS and DPI Fisheries to organise an artificial opening next week in accordance with its licence because recent tests showed water quality was declining,’ he said.

Tallow Creek is an Intermittently Closed and Open Lake / Lagoon (ICOLL), one of many on the Australian coastline that opens and closes to the ocean naturally over time.

Weather predictions are for a southeasterly swell for the next few days and it is expected that the sandbank will slowly rebuild and close the mouth of Tallow Creek over the next few days.


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