FISH KILL: A stingray struggles for oxygen at the edge of Tallow Creek after last November's illegal opening of the creek to the ocean.
FISH KILL: A stingray struggles for oxygen at the edge of Tallow Creek after last November's illegal opening of the creek to the ocean. Dailan Pugh

Nature to take it's course at Tallow Creek

WITH Tallow Creek levels creeping back up, Byron Shire Council has warned against any unauthorised opening of the creek to the ocean and a repeat of last November's major fish kill.

Council staff are closely monitoring water levels, rainfall conditions and water quality in the creek ready to intervene only if the water quality is dangerous to human health, or if water levels pose a flood risk.

"Unfortunately there was an unauthorised opening of Tallow Creek in November last year and this caused a significant fish kill and we don't want this to happen again," Byron Shire Council's Coastal and Biodiversity Officer, Chloe Dowsett said.

"When water builds up there is often concern from local residents but it is important for people to know Tallow Creek, like many other coastal waterways, open and close naturally over time and there are strict regulations about artificially opening the creek mouth.

"Should the water level go beyond 2.2m then Council does have a permit from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to artificially open the mouth of Tallow Creek and a lot of consideration is given to making sure this is done properly to minimise the rapid release of water to the ocean and reduce the chance of a fish kill.

Tallow Creek is an Intermittently Closed or Open Lake or Lagoon (ICOLL) and it is currently closed which mean water levels build up behind the sand berm.

Ms Dowsett, said staff have been inspecting the level of the beach at the entrance of Tallow Creek to ensure the sand bar is not at a height which would effect a natural breaching of the berm during the next rainfall event.

"Water levels have been sitting between 2.0 to 2.1m for a few weeks now with no significant rain predicted in the near future," Ms Dowsett said.

"The beach berm is presently only a little higher than the water level in the creek at the moment with the ocean water reaching the creek during the highest of the high tides.

"It is clear that some high tides have been washing over the beach into the creek, however swell conditions have not been quite right for a natural breaching," she said.

"Byron Shire Council has an Environmental Management Plan and Opening Strategy for Tallow Creek which details triggers to manual intervention of the creek mouth.


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