Processes Impacting on Lake Macquarie

Designs for the Future
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As residents of the Hunter Region we are very fortunate to live near one of Australia’s largest and most beautiful lakes, Lake Macquarie. However, with this privilege comes responsibility.

The cumulative impact of Lake Macquarie’s catchment population, approximately 190,000 residents, is potentially disastrous to the Lake’s health. It has been estimated that 57,000 tonnes of sediment, 360 tonnes of nitrogen and 23 tonnes of phosphorous enter the Lake each year via stormwater.

Conventional concrete drains, including kerb and guttering, together with hard sealed surfaces such as roofs and driveways, deliver storm water directly to the Lake every time it rains. This intense flush is very harmful to the health of the creeks and Lake, not only bringing a cocktail of pollutants but also causing disturbance to plants and animals.

Over the past decade a new understanding has developed of natural systems and the role they play in a sustainable and healthy environment. We have seen a shift away from the hard engineering or concrete solutions of the past, toward new strategies that preserve or reinstate natural processes within the environment.

As a result of this, a new approach called Water Sensitive Urban Design has been developed as a way of dealing with water cycle management for both private and public property. This approach will also change dramatically the way that new subdivisions are designed.

It offers an alternative to the traditional approach to stormwater management treating stormwater as a resource and asset rather than a nuisance. This ensures that run-off and its contaminants, are retained in the catchment, rather than enter our waterways. It mimics natural landscapes, where water is held in the ground and fed into the waterways over a period of time.

One of the biggest benefits is improved water quality as natural systems (such as wetlands and vegetated swales) work as filters, removing pollutants before they enter the Lake.

There are a number of ways that individuals can use Water Sensitive Urban Design principles in their own home, not only helping to reduce sediments entering the Lake but also saving money.

The installation of a rainwater tank not only helps to save one of our most precious resources, but also helps to control the harmful impact that storm water can have on our waterways. It can be used for a variety of purposes including washing water, watering gardens and flushing toilets.

Reducing the amount of hard concrete surfaces such as driveways, roads and car parks on your property will also help reduce the amount of sediments entering the Lake. These surfaces accumulate oils, grease and fine sediments which after rainfall, are washed into our waterways.

The Project Management Committee has funded a number of projects that use Water Sensitive Urban Design concepts throughout Lake Macquarie and its catchment. These include the construction of wetlands and vegetated drainage swales, some of these works have also involved the removal of old concrete drains. These natural processes significantly reduce the effects of urbanisation by filtering pollutants from stormwater before they enter the Lake.

Although we are starting to see early signs of improvement in the Lake’s health, this is an ongoing process and we still have a long way to go. Lake Macquarie is a dynamic environmental treasure that can be enjoyed by current and future generations if we work together to protect it.


Channel Challenges
Channel & Water Quality
Constant Change
Threats to the Lake
Vegetated Swales
Water Sensitive Urban Design
Wrack & Ruin