Frequently asked questions
What is the purpose of the project?
The aim of this project is to consider future management opportunities for the South East coastal lakes (Lake Bonney SE, Lake George, Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza, Lake Hawdon North), ensuring they are conserved and enjoyed by future generations. The project is engaging 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?
The South East Coastal Lakes and much of the surrounding lands are unalienated Crown land managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service SA.
Identifying opportunities to better manage the lakes is not new and has been discussed over a number of decades. This current project is an opportunity to bring all the previous work together, alongside the feedback from the current consultation to deliver the best possible management outcomes for the lakes.
Will the project consider any other lakes?
No. The project only considers Lake Bonney SE, Lake George, Lake Hawdon North, Lake St Clair, Lake Eliza. 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).
What are the phases of the project?
The project involves 3 phases:
Phase 1 was undertaken in the second half of 2022 and involved early engagement and information collection, understanding how the lakes are currently used and valued.
Phase 2 involves
Providing a Phase 1 report to the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water
Developing potential management options with the Minister
· Developing a proposal outlining management options for public consultation.
Phase 3 involves
Reviewing feedback from Phase 2
Preparation of a 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 was completed in 2022. Phase 2 is being conducted now and an updated proposal will be made to the Minister after its completion, subject to the outcome of the Native Title claim that exists over the region.
How will the community be engaged throughout the project?
Phase 1 involved participation both online and in person through targeted meetings with key stakeholder groups, online workshops and an online survey. Input was collected and collated for the Minister for Climate, Environment and Water’s consideration ahead of phase 2.
Phase 2 consultation provides the opportunity for feedback to be given by members of the public to the proposals document.
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. Phase 1 consultation has led to the proposals paper for Phase 2 on which we are currently seeking feedback. Information and feedback from Phase 2 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 regarding the 5 lakes that make up the SECL project. DEW is consulting on proposals during Phase 2. The Minister for Climate, Environment and Water will make final decisions on the future management of the lakes after Phase 2 feedback has been collated and analysed.
During investigations as part of that SECL Phase 1 engagement, it was identified that the land tenure of Mullins Swamp is different from the other 5 lakes and it is not subject to a Native Title claim or utilised for public access and recreation. For this reason it has been removed from the broader SECL project, and its proposed future management is being consulted on in a more targeted manner.
This process involves consulting directly with adjoining landholders and specific Mullins Swamp stakeholders such as Council and the SE Conservation and Drainage Board.
Given that feedback is being sought directly from adjoining land owners and other key stakeholders of Mullins Swamp, and the fact that proclamation as a conservation park will not change the current use of Mullins Swamp, we are not seeking wider feedback at this time.
What is Native Title and how does it affect this project?
For a good summary we recccomend visiting the website What Is Native Title? | SA Native Title (nativetitlesa.org) In relation to this project, the Native Title claim for First Nations of the South East #1 is in the process of having the land in the claim area assessed for inclusion and negotiation on the Native Title claim. Large portions of the lakes may have native title existing on them.
Formal protection of the lakes under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 will require support by the claimants. The department has been working closely with the First Nations of the South East during of this project.
Will changes to management arrangements prohibit certain activities from happening at the lakes?
Activities currently enjoyed at the coastal lakes can be undertaken 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 partners with recreational hunting groups to undertake management of feral species.
Currently grazing licences operate on a number of lakes, this is currently proving to have benefits to the management of habitat on those lakes. 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 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 South 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).
Why do the lakes need to be managed?
Across unalienated Crown land there are management issues around unmonitored camping, driving off track, rubbish being dumped, cultural sites not protected, and conservation issues including disturbance to waders and migratory shorebirds. The National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 provides a greater level of site management and protection for flora and fauna and than the Crown Lands Management Act 2009 can.
How do we know what the native and migratory shorebirds need?
Why can’t we restock lakes with fish?
This is out of scope of the project and is not within the remit of DEW.
What about the water quality in Lake Bonney SE?
This is out of scope of the project and is not within the remit of DEW.
Will the changes affect the way South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Board does its work?
No. The Board has statutory authority to undertake works as per the South Eastern Water Conservation and Drainage Act 1992. DEW is working closely with the Board throughout the project to ensure that proposals recognise the Board’s ongoing work.
Will there be more campsites and better public facilities?
If the lakes are proclaimed as parks then access to funding through NPWS will be possible, meaning that upgrading and creating facilities can be considered as park of the parks planning process. It also allows for improved management of bad behaviour and impacts.
Why is the Lake George proposal boundary not straight across the lake?
At the moment it is an indicative boundary reflecting high value areas to protect in the lake and how these interact with cadastral data survey requirements, these will be updated once final decisions are made.
How will this project impact the Lake Hawdon North Feasibility Study?
The Healthy Coorong, Healthy Basin program’s Lake Hawdon North Investigation 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 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.