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Planning to improve health and productivity of the Macleay Estuary

A new collaborative research partnership is being launched by North Coast Local Land Services focusing on the health of the Macleay River Estuary with investment provided by the Australian Government's Caring for our Country Program.  The biggest backswamp in the North Coast of NSW, which is located on the Collombatti-Clybucca floodplain, was identified in the Macleay River Estuary Management Study as a high priority area in the Macleay Catchment. 

The project will improve sustainable agriculture practices across the floodplain with an overall focus on floodplain drainage systems and infrastructure.  A key objective is to promote the improved health and productivity of the Macleay River Estuary. 

The 2010 Macleay River Estuary Management Study assessed the state of the Macleay River Estuary and outlined priority areas for future actions between 2011 and 2016.  Improving water quality discharged from floodplain wetlands was ranked as the second highest priority management objective.  Eight of the top ten management objectives relate to floodplain wetland areas, with the Collombatti-Clybucca drainage area specifically highlighted.

There are a range of issues that have been identified including poor water quality being discharged including acidic water (ph<3.5) and blackwater (low dissolved oxygen); poor fish passage and habitat; poor floodwater drainage and degraded infrastructure.

In the initial stages of the project, North Coast Local Land Services have engaged the Water Research Laboratory of the University of New South Wales to prepare a Clybucca Floodplain Remediation Feasibility Study.   The collaborative partnership will undertake a review of conceptual hydrologic plans of the Collombatti-Clybucca drainage area and potential remediation options.  There will be extensive stakeholder consultation to determine viable options for further investigation.

This first stage, due for completion at the end of December this year will inform strategic planning for developing future on-ground works projects to address acid impacts across the Collombatti - Clybucca Floodplain landscape and Macleay estuarine environment.

To assist with this process, North Coast Local Land Services in association with Kempsey Shire Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, and Department of Primary Industries are facilitating the establishment of the Clybucca Working Group which will consist of representatives from community, industry and government.

Max Osborne, Senior Land Services Officer with North Coast Local Land Services said "The Working Group is an important feature in this project.  There are many stakeholders who rely on the Macleay River Estuary and their input is crucial in protecting both the Estuary's future and the economic viability of those who work within it."

The Clybucca Working Group currently has representation from; Seven Oaks Drainage Union, Stuarts Point and District Community Organisation, Kempsey Aboriginal Land Council, Macleay Co-Op Professional Fisherman, Macleay Oyster Farmers, Macleay Landcare, Seabreeze Pro-Am fishing Club, Ecofishers, NSW Fishing Club's Association , Save Our Macleay River, Wetland Care Australia, Oceanwatch, Office of Environment and Heritage (Divisions - Coast Estuaries, Scientific Services, National Parks and Wildlife Service), Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries (Divisions - Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation, Aquaculture & Aquatic Environment), Kempsey Shire Council, Roads and Maritime Service, and North Coast Local Land Services.

If you would like to be involved in the Clybucca Working Group or require more information please contact Max Osborne at North Coast Local Land Services – Kempsey  6563 6710.

Media contact:          Max Osborne, Senior Land Services Officer
                                           Telephone:   6563 6710