What is the pur­pose of the project?

The South East Coastal Lakes and much of the sur­round­ing lands are unalien­at­ed Crown land man­aged by the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA. The aim of this project is to con­sid­er future man­age­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties for the South East coastal lakes (Lake Bon­ney SE, Lake George, Mullins Swamp, Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza, Lake Haw­don North), ensur­ing they are con­served and enjoyed by future gen­er­a­tions. The project will engage with the com­mu­ni­ty and stake­hold­ers to under­stand how peo­ple use and val­ue the lakes, iden­ti­fy the envi­ron­men­tal assets, needs, and risks, and to explore areas for improve­ment in the man­age­ment of the lakes into the future.

Who ini­ti­at­ed the project / what are the dri­vers behind the project?

This project was ini­ti­at­ed by the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water with approval from the Min­is­ter for Envi­ron­ment and Water. There have been a num­ber of reviews, strate­gies and rec­om­men­da­tions about the coastal lakes over many years. This project will build on and finalise the exten­sive work that has already been done.

The lakes includ­ed in the project are impor­tant coastal ecosys­tems that pro­vide nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly impor­tant habi­tat for shore­birds and water­birds and have unique fea­tures that are high­ly val­ued by the com­mu­ni­ty. As a result of altered hydrol­o­gy from the drainage net­work and the effects of a chang­ing cli­mate, these coastal lakes are the largest remain­ing per­ma­nent and sea­son­al­ly inun­dat­ed water bod­ies in the region. As the impacts from cli­mate change con­tin­ue to increase, it is essen­tial to man­age the lakes to ensure their unique fea­tures are pro­tect­ed and main­tained into the future.

This project is a chance to review the six lakes as a con­nect­ed sys­tem, rather than focus­ing on one lake at a time. While the project will look at all six lakes, man­age­ment options may vary between lakes (see Will all lakes be treat­ed the same? below).

Will the project con­sid­er any oth­er lakes?

No. The project will only con­sid­er Lake Bon­ney SE, Lake George, Mullins Swamp, Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza, and Lake Haw­don North. A num­ber of oth­er lakes near­by are pro­claimed as parks under the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (e.g., Lake Robe Game Reserve, Lake Haw­don South Con­ser­va­tion Park). No changes are pro­posed for the exist­ing man­age­ment arrange­ments for those lakes.

What are the phas­es of the project?

There are three phas­es of the project, which are sum­marised below:

Phase 1

Ear­ly engage­ment and infor­ma­tion collection

Under­stand­ing how the lakes are cur­rent­ly used and valued

Com­mu­ni­ty aspi­ra­tions regard­ing management

Report based on infor­ma­tion gath­ered dur­ing Phase 1

Phase 2

Pro­vide Phase 1 report to the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate, Envi­ron­ment and Water

Devel­op poten­tial man­age­ment options with the Minister

Devel­op pro­pos­al out­lin­ing man­age­ment options

Pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the pro­pos­al and options

Phase 3

Review con­sul­ta­tion feed­back from Phase 2

Pre­pare con­sul­ta­tion report

Final­i­sa­tion of options with the Minister

Deci­sion by the Minister

What is the project timeline?

The project launched in the sec­ond half of 2021. Phase 1 is expect­ed to be com­plet­ed by 30 June 2022. Phase 2 is expect­ed to take place in the sec­ond half of 2022 with Phase 3 to fol­low in late 2022 and ear­ly 2023.

How will the com­mu­ni­ty be engaged through­out the project?

As part of the project, we will be under­tak­ing two phas­es of con­sul­ta­tion. Phase 1 (March-June 2022) is pri­mar­i­ly about infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing. The key objec­tives of con­sul­ta­tion dur­ing Phase 1 are:

  • bet­ter under­stand how the lakes are cur­rent­ly used
  • under­stand how the lakes are valued
  • iden­ti­fy oppor­tu­ni­ties to bet­ter man­age the lakes to main­tain their unique and icon­ic nat­ur­al fea­tures while pro­vid­ing access for their ongo­ing enjoyment.

We are pro­vid­ing sev­er­al dif­fer­ent ways for stake­hold­ers to par­tic­i­pate in Phase 1, both online and in person:

  • Tar­get­ed meet­ings with key stake­hold­er groups
  • An online work­shop on 17 May 2022 (in lieu of can­celled region­al work­shops in May). This sought input from par­tic­i­pants via online ques­tions and comments.
  • An in-per­son work­shop at the Civic and Arts Cen­tre in Mil­li­cent in the evening of Thurs­day 16 June 2022. This will include round table work­shop activ­i­ties to col­lect infor­ma­tion from attendees.
  • An online sur­vey, for those who are unable to par­tic­i­pate in any oth­er activ­i­ties or wish to pro­vide addi­tion­al detail.

While the for­mat and struc­ture of each of the con­sul­ta­tion activ­i­ties may dif­fer, all meth­ods will be pro­vid­ing the same infor­ma­tion about the project and seek­ing the same input from stake­hold­ers, primarily:

  • how you cur­rent­ly use the lakes
  • what you val­ue about the lakes
  • pri­or­i­ty man­age­ment activ­i­ties you think should occur at the Lakes
  • would you like to see any­thing change at the lakes in the future
  • how you think the lakes could be man­aged in the future to ensure they can be used and enjoyed while main­tain­ing and pro­tect­ing their unique and icon­ic features.

Input gath­ered from all of the above activ­i­ties will be giv­en the same con­sid­er­a­tion. Input from phase 1 will be col­lect­ed and col­lat­ed for the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate, Envi­ron­ment and Water’s con­sid­er­a­tion ahead of Phase 2.

Phase 2 con­sul­ta­tion will include pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on a pro­pos­al out­lin­ing man­age­ment options for the coastal lakes. Details on this con­sul­ta­tion phase will be made avail­able after Phase 1 is complete.

Who is being consulted?

The project team will be engag­ing with a wide range of peo­ple and organ­i­sa­tions that have an inter­est in the man­age­ment of the lakes. This includes:

Tra­di­tion­al Owners

Local coun­cils

Adja­cent land­hold­ers / licence and lease holders

Recre­ation­al users (e.g., fish­ing, hunt­ing, walk­ing, water sports, boat­ing, four-wheel driving)

Envi­ron­men­tal groups (e.g. envi­ron­men­tal NGOs)

Vol­un­teers (e.g., Friends of Parks groups)

Local man­age­ment groups (e.g. Lake George Man­age­ment Committee)

Local com­mu­ni­ty members

Oth­er state gov­ern­ment agen­cies and boards, includ­ing the Lime­stone Coast Land­scape Board and the South East­ern Water Con­ser­va­tion and Drainage Board

The project team is also work­ing with oth­er areas of the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water that have an inter­est in the project area or are work­ing on relat­ed projects.

Who will make deci­sions about the future of the coastal lakes?

The Min­is­ter for Cli­mate, Envi­ron­ment and Water admin­is­ters the Crown Land Man­age­ment Act 2009 and will be the ulti­mate deci­sion mak­er on any future man­age­ment arrange­ments for the South East coastal lakes. Infor­ma­tion and feed­back from the con­sul­ta­tion phas­es will be pro­vid­ed to the Min­is­ter to inform these decisions.

Have deci­sions already been made about the future of the coastal lakes?

No deci­sions have been made to change the man­age­ment arrange­ments for the lakes. We are seek­ing the community’s views to con­sid­er whether changes should be made. Ulti­mate­ly the Min­is­ter for Cli­mate, Envi­ron­ment and Water will make deci­sions on any change to the cur­rent man­age­ment régime for the lakes or an indi­vid­ual lake.

What are the cur­rent tenure and man­age­ment arrange­ments for the coastal lakes?


All the lakes are unalien­at­ed Crown land, except for Mullins Swamp which is ded­i­cat­ed Crown land (ded­i­cat­ed to the South East­ern Water Con­ser­va­tion and Drainage Board).

Crown land is admin­is­tered under the Crown Land Man­age­ment Act 2009. This Act pro­vides lim­it­ed man­age­ment pow­ers to reg­u­late activ­i­ties and man­age any adverse impacts on the lakes (such as unreg­u­lat­ed camp­ing, cut­ting of veg­e­ta­tion, and dri­ving off-track) and pro­vides no long term pro­tec­tion of the envi­ron­ment or require­ment on gov­ern­ment to man­age the lakes in any par­tic­u­lar way.

Man­age­ment arrangements

The Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice South Aus­tralia (NPWSSA) is respon­si­ble for man­ag­ing both pro­tect­ed parks/​reserves and unalien­at­ed Crown land.

All the lakes in this project are man­aged by the NPWSSA, except for Mullins Swamp which is man­aged by an adja­cent land­hold­er on behalf of the South East­ern Water Con­ser­va­tion and Drainage Board.

In addi­tion, man­age­ment of Lake George is sup­port­ed by the local com­mu­ni­ty through the Lake George Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee (LGMC), a com­mit­tee under the Beach­port Dis­trict Devel­op­ment Association.

What future tenure and man­age­ment options is the Depart­ment considering?

There are a num­ber of poten­tial future man­age­ment options that will be con­sid­ered, includ­ing any options that are iden­ti­fied dur­ing con­sul­ta­tion. Dif­fer­ent options may be con­sid­ered for each lake and even with­in each lake.

A com­bi­na­tion of some of the fol­low­ing options may be con­sid­ered across the Lakes:



No change

Lake(s) remain as Crown land and exist­ing man­age­ment arrange­ments con­tin­ue (Crown land man­aged by the NPWSSA, role of Lake George Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee unchanged)

Lake(s) ded­i­cat­ed as con­ser­va­tion reserve(s) under the Crown Land Man­age­ment Act 2009

Recog­ni­tion under the Crown Land Man­age­ment Act that the lake(s) are being man­aged for con­ser­va­tion. No changes to access or lev­el of pro­tec­tion. Role of Lake George Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee unchanged.

Lake(s) pro­tect­ed under the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Act 1972

Reserve cat­e­gories include:

Game Reserve

Areas pro­tect­ed to con­serve habi­tats and wildlife while allow­ing for sea­son­al hunt­ing dur­ing pre­scribed peri­ods. Oth­er recre­ation activ­i­ties such as camp­ing, walk­ing, fish­ing, boat­ing can be supported.

Con­ser­va­tion Park

Areas pro­tect­ed for the pur­pose of con­serv­ing wildlife or the nat­ur­al or his­toric fea­tures of the land. Recre­ation activ­i­ties such as camp­ing, walk­ing, fish­ing, boat­ing can be supported.

Nation­al Park

Areas con­sid­ered to be of nation­al sig­nif­i­cance due to wildlife, nat­ur­al fea­tures of the land, or Abo­rig­i­nal or Euro­pean her­itage. Nation­al Parks pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for pub­lic recre­ation and enjoy­ment, as well as nature-based tourism.

Recre­ation Park

Areas man­aged for con­ser­va­tion, pub­lic recre­ation and enjoy­ment in a nat­ur­al set­ting, often in mod­i­fied habi­tat. A high­er empha­sis on recre­ation­al activities.

NB: NPWSSA could con­tin­ue to work with the Lake George Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee to deliv­er man­age­ment out­comes for Lake George if pro­claimed as a park or reserve

Lake(s) nom­i­nat­ed as a Wet­land of Inter­na­tion­al Impor­tance under the Ram­sar Convention

The Ram­sar Con­ven­tion encour­ages the des­ig­na­tion of sites con­tain­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive, rare or unique wet­lands, or wet­lands that are impor­tant for con­serv­ing bio­log­i­cal diver­si­ty. Once des­ig­nat­ed, these sites are added to the Con­ven­tion’s List of Wet­lands of Inter­na­tion­al Impor­tance and become known as Ram­sar sites.

Oth­er man­age­ment options iden­ti­fied dur­ing consultation

The project team will con­sid­er any pro­pos­als put for­ward for con­sid­er­a­tion as part of this con­sul­ta­tion process.

Will all lakes be treat­ed the same?

It is clear­ly emerg­ing from ear­ly con­sul­ta­tion that the lakes are used and val­ued in dif­fer­ent ways. For this rea­son a one size fits all’ approach to future man­age­ment options is unlike­ly to be appro­pri­ate across the six lakes. The dif­fer­ent val­ues and uses will be con­sid­ered as man­age­ment options are worked through in Phase 2 and this may ulti­mate­ly mean that man­age­ment arrange­ments vary from lake to lake.

Will the project con­sid­er options to sell the Crown land or allow devel­op­ments on or around the lakes?

The pur­pose of this project is to ensure the coastal lakes remain an asset for the com­mu­ni­ty and the envi­ron­ment into the future. It is intend­ed that the lakes remain as pub­lic land and will not be sold to pri­vate owners.

No devel­op­ment is cur­rent­ly pro­posed how­ev­er, where pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion iden­ti­fies a need for new or upgrad­ed vis­i­tor facil­i­ties (e.g. bet­ter defined camp sites, walk­ing trails, day vis­i­tor areas) these may be con­sid­ered in future.

Will changes to man­age­ment arrange­ments pro­hib­it cer­tain activ­i­ties from hap­pen­ing at the lakes?

The major­i­ty of activ­i­ties cur­rent­ly enjoyed at the coastal lakes can be under­tak­en both on Crown land or with­in reserves under the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Act 1972. This includes recre­ation­al fish­ing, boat­ing, wind­surf­ing, four-wheel dri­ving and hiking/​walking.

Hunt­ing of duck and quail can only be under­tak­en on pub­lic land that is des­ig­nat­ed as a Game Reserve or unalien­at­ed Crown land that has not been exclud­ed by an annu­al gazette notice dur­ing an offi­cial hunt­ing sea­son (see list here).

Hunt­ing of fer­al species such as deer/​foxes by the gen­er­al pub­lic requires approval by the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice on pub­lic land. This is so the con­trol of fer­al species is under­tak­en in a coor­di­nat­ed and safe man­ner. For some reserves and unalien­at­ed Crown land the Nation­al Parks and Wildlife Ser­vice SA part­ners with recre­ation­al hunt­ing groups to under­take man­age­ment of fer­al species.

Cur­rent­ly graz­ing licences oper­ate on Lake Haw­don North. and this is cur­rent­ly prov­ing to have ben­e­fits to the man­age­ment of habi­tat on this lake. Any future man­age­ment options will con­sid­er the exist­ing and future use of the land in dis­cus­sion with the licensees.

Will this project con­sid­er water man­age­ment issues at the lakes?

The pri­ma­ry aim of the South East Coastal Lakes project is to exam­ine options for land tenure and man­age­ment arrange­ments to con­serve and main­tain the coastal lakes into the future. While water man­age­ment is not the focus of the project, we under­stand that water man­age­ment is extreme­ly impor­tant to sup­port­ing the ecosys­tems and habi­tats at each of the six lakes.

The South East Coastal Lakes project team is work­ing close­ly with oth­er areas with­in the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water, the Lime­stone Coast Land­scape Board and the South­ern East­ern Water Con­ser­va­tion and Drainage Board to share stake­hold­er feed­back on water man­age­ment issues and to ensure con­sis­ten­cy with com­pli­men­ta­ry water man­age­ment and infra­struc­ture projects (see below).

How will this project impact the Lake Haw­don North Fea­si­bil­i­ty Study?

The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin pro­grams Lake Haw­don North Inves­ti­ga­tions are exam­in­ing the fea­si­bil­i­ty of con­struct­ing a reg­u­la­tor on Drain L to main­tain and extend the peri­od (not depth) of sea­son­al indun­da­tion at Lake Haw­don North, pro­vid­ing shore­bird habi­tat for the entire peri­od that migrat­ing shore­birds are present in the South East.

The project is con­sid­ered to be com­ple­men­tary to the South East Coastal Lakes project because, if fea­si­ble and approved, it will help restore and main­tain impor­tant shore­bird habi­tat at Lake Haw­don North. Any change in man­age­ment as a result of the South East Coastal Lakes project will not impact the abil­i­ty for the reg­u­la­tor infra­struc­ture to be built.

For more infor­ma­tion of the Lake Haw­don North Inves­ti­ga­tions, please see the Depart­ment for Envi­ron­ment and Water’s web­site, which includes FAQs on the project.

How will this project impact the Lake George Flow Fea­si­bil­i­ty Study?

The Lake George Flow Fea­si­bil­i­ty Study is inves­ti­gat­ing the fea­si­bil­i­ty of divert­ing sur­plus water flows from the Reedy Creek Mt Hope Drain into Lake George to help main­tain water lev­els in the lake to ensure its resilience and capac­i­ty to pro­vide aquat­ic habi­tat. The project focus­es on the engi­neer­ing fea­si­bil­i­ty assessment.

The project is con­sid­ered to be com­ple­men­tary to the South East Coastal Lakes project as it is aimed at main­tain­ing aquat­ic habi­tat at Lake George. Any change in man­age­ment régime as a result of the South East Coastal Lakes project will not impact the abil­i­ty for water flows to be divert­ed into Lake George.

For more infor­ma­tion on the Lake George Flow Fea­si­bil­i­ty Study please see the Lime­stone Coast Land­scape Board’s web­site.