Keep Lake Conjola Entrance open to the Ocean

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                                                        OPEN LETTER

                To the Hon. Gladys BEREJIKLIAN, BA, DIntS, MCom MP

                                       Premier of New South Wales

Lake Conjola is a resilient seaside village on the coast of NSW. In this year alone:

-          We have faced fires.  The town was decimated by the recent bushfires – with loss of over 80 homes and incineration of the surrounding bushland.

-          We have been flooded. Conjola village and camping areas were inundated, and our lake was turned black with ash from runoff from the burnt bushland

-          We are struggling financially. Tourism, especially in the summer months is a key source of revenue that sets up our community for the year. This year there has been no tourism. Fire, flood and covid-19 have rightly kept many people away.

But now, we face an even bigger threat:  The entrance to Lake Conjola is in the imminent stage of closure.  We need to secure funding of $1.63M to dredge a managed entrance which will enable the community to rebuild.

The clean water of Lake Conjola, brimming with fish, is the key reason people come to visit. Extended lake closure will seal our economic ruin:

-          The integral relationship between the health of Lake Conjola and tourism was emphasised during both the workshop and community information sessions. Source: Advisian Worley Group Shoalhaven CMP Scoping Study Draft Report November 2019

-          Persistent water levels in the lake will erode the banks, and increase the threat of blackwater events and fish kills

-          Seaweed beds, vital to building fish stocks, wither away in the murky water.

Dredging the entrance will provide many benefits:

-          Lessen the severity and frequency of flooding

-          Provide local stimulus and job creation while the dredging works are undertaken

-          Increase local tourism

-          Sand dredged from the lake will also be useful for beach restoration projects in Manyana and Bendalong (villages north of Lake Conjola which were also affected by fires).

Official visitors in January, including yourself, when giving undertakings to help get us back on our feet, were made very aware of the importance to our community of Lake Conjola being open to the ocean. You identified the importance of an open Lake and gave our community some hope in our ongoing battle with Shoalhaven Council to have an open and managed Lake. We ask that you use your authority to direct the NSW state agencies and Shoalhaven Council to stop the bickering and resolve the impasse on behalf of the community. Provide us with alternative options in Grants and funding available to us and dredge the entrance. 

With an open lake, the Lake Conjola community, surrounding villages and towns of Milton and Ulladulla can then get back to doing what we do best: welcoming tourists to our pristine lake, rebuilding Lake Conjola and making a positive contribution to the regional economy.