Tweed River Estuary Coastal Management Program

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Consultation has concluded

Council is preparing a new management plan for the Tweed River Estuary.

The Tweed River Estuary Coastal Management Program will provide recommendations for the future management of this important waterway, and will follow NSW government guidelines for coastal management.

The Tweed River Estuary is the tidal section of the river, a 35km stretch between the Bray Park Weir at Murwillumbah and the river mouth at Tweed Heads.

The Tweed River Estuary is many things to many people and community members will be invited to provide their feedback to help guide the plan’s priorities. The

Council is preparing a new management plan for the Tweed River Estuary.

The Tweed River Estuary Coastal Management Program will provide recommendations for the future management of this important waterway, and will follow NSW government guidelines for coastal management.

The Tweed River Estuary is the tidal section of the river, a 35km stretch between the Bray Park Weir at Murwillumbah and the river mouth at Tweed Heads.

The Tweed River Estuary is many things to many people and community members will be invited to provide their feedback to help guide the plan’s priorities. The scenic waterway and picturesque surrounds are used extensively for recreational activities and are extremely important to the local community.

Click here to share your comments and photos.

Click here to complete an online survey for the management plan before 7 November.

The Estuary retains a cultural connection for Aboriginal people and is a place for traditional cultural practices.

It is also highly valued as a commercial waterway and is integral to tourism and agricultural practices on the floodplain, contributing to the local economy.

It has a diversity of habitats for a wide variety of plants and animals and is home to a number of protected flora and fauna species, including estuarine vegetation (mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass), shorebirds, raptors and fish species.

Maintaining the environmental health of the river is essential to sustain all its beneficial uses by the community.

It can be difficult to balance recreational, commercial and environmental priorities in a busy and popular waterway like the Tweed River, particularly in the face of population growth and rising sea levels. The key requirement of the management plan is to determine actions that can be implemented by Council, government agency stakeholders and the community to achieve the right balance between the many different uses and to protect nature, scenic and recreational values, livelihoods and cultural practices.

Keep an eye on this webpage for project updates. However, for further information, click here to find out how to contact a team member.

Consultation has concluded
  • Two new studies bring final plan closer

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    over 2 years ago

    A major plan which will determine the future use of waterways in Tweed Shire for boating, fishing and other recreational activities is one step closer with the completion of two significant reports.

    Consultants have completed the Ecological Assessment and Recreational Use Study, key components of the Tweed River Estuary Management Plan, set to be released for public exhibition in March, 2018.

    The plan will balance environmental, recreational and economic uses of the river and set out a program of works that can be implemented over ten years to protect its values.

    Tweed Shire Council’s Waterways Program Leader Tom Alletson said the new studies, which add to the Community Values Study and Water Quality Assessment already completed for the project, provide a detailed snapshot of the river system.

    “It’s difficult to summarise the whole estuary’s condition with a single rating as conditions vary considerably across differing attributes and along its length,” said Mr Alletson.

    “Overall however we can say that it is in good condition in its lower reaches with poor conditions upstream, particularly upstream of Condong and in the Rous River”

    The report recommends a focus on working with land owners in the upper estuary and the Rous River to rehabilitate bankside vegetation and continue to improve agricultural best practice.

    “This would benefit those areas of the river in poorest condition and would potentially result in the greatest improvement to overall ecosystem conditions in the estuary,” said Mr Alletson.

    “This would then benefit downstream reaches and could lead to long-term improvements in water quality and seagrass, with benefits for uses such as swimming and fishing.”

    One of the key recommendations of the Recreational Use Study is the promotion of ‘character zones’ to support the continuation of active and passive recreational use, and river rehabilitation.

    The character zones acknowledge the key issues of bank erosion and usage conflicts, recommending a restriction on towing activities in environmentally sensitive areas upstream of the Commercial Road boat ramp in Murwillumbah and adjacent to Stott’s Island and the Tweed Broadwater.

    “The idea of the character zones is to proactively promote uses of the river that best suit its character and give us the best chance of addressing environmental problems in the face of increasing river use,” said Mr Alletson.

    The NSW Department of Roads and Maritime Service are currently reviewing their Tweed River Boating Plan, which controls vessel use on the river.

    Mr Alletson said the concept of character zones has been conveyed to Roads and Maritime Services.

    “It is hoped that by highlighting different areas where passive uses such as kayaking and towing sports such as water skiing are most suitable, a balanced and enjoyable river experienced can be achieved for recreational uses sometimes seen as incompatible”
  • Studies find wide variations in Tweed River health

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    about 3 years ago

    Opposite ends of the Tweed River are at opposite ends of the river health spectrum, according to two recent water quality studies.

    “Down towards the river mouth, the lower estuary is a healthy and well-functioning ecosystem and gets an ‘A’ for water quality compliance,” Council’s Waterways Program Leader, Tom Alletson, said.

    “In contrast, the Rous River and creeks feeding the broadwaters have poorer water quality.”

    Council commissioned the two water quality assessments as background studies for a new Tweed River Estuary Management Program.

    Both examined compliance with aquatic ecosystem protection targets for the Tweed River and Terranora-Cobaki Broadwaters between 2012 and 2016.

    Actions to be considered for inclusion in the management plan include:

    • Working with floodplain land owners to improve the quality of water in agricultural drains
    • Reducing the discharge of nutrients from the Murwillumbah Wastewater Treatment Plant into the Rous River
    • Community education about high-risk times for swimming because of water quality
    • Restricting stock access to river banks throughout the whole Tweed River catchment
    • Revegetation of river banks, particularly in the Rous River

    Click here to read the full report

    Click here to read the full media release


  • Survey results contained in community values report

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    about 3 years ago


    A community values report providing valuable insight to the uses and environmental condition of the Tweed River Estuary has been produced from two surveys conducted as part of the Tweed River Estuary Management Program.

    The values report - compiling the responses of the 850 people who participated in a community survey and the more than 400 people involved in a phone random survey - has been received by Council and is available for the public to view.

    In summary, it was found the river is highly regarded for its natural and scenic values and is generally considered to be healthy. Recreational opportunities are highly valued and there is general support for a wide range of passive and active, water and shore-based pursuits.

    Respondents said protection of the natural features of the waterway, addressing bank erosion and ensuring good water quality are priority issues for future river management.

    The community also wants Council and other government agencies to ensure recreational use of the waterway is able to be enjoyed without conflict.

    See the documents section to read the community values report.

    You can still share your thoughts about the Tweed River and contribute towards the management program, by uploading your Tweed River photos and ideas to the story board.

    The Tweed River Estuary Management Plan will be completed in December 2017 and will be exhibited for public comment in early 2018.


  • Fantastic response to Tweed River survey

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    over 3 years ago

    More than 850 people have shared how they use the Tweed River and their opinions on how it should be managed, by participating in the Tweed River Estuary Management Program community survey.

    Several hundred residents completed the online version on Your Say Tweed, while many more delivered printed copies to the Council offices at Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads and others completed printed surveys at community events attended by Council staff.

    That’s in addition to the more than 400 people who provided their input through a telephone survey of randomly selected residents.

    The huge response shows there’s plenty of community interest in the Tweed River and how it is managed.

    A summary of results from the surveys will be featured on this webpage once they are available.

    You can still share your thoughts about the Tweed River and contribute towards the management program, by uploading your Tweed River photos and ideas to the story board.


  • Tweed River literature review released

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    over 3 years ago

    A review of available information on the management of the Tweed River Estuary, and other resources that will support the production of the Tweed River Estuary Management Plan, is now available in the Document Library.

    The draft Tweed River Estuary Management Plan Literature Review summarises all existing known and relevant information about the river, and is the first outcome of the study, through independent consultant Hydrosphere Consulting.


  • Extended deadline for survey

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    almost 4 years ago

    Almost 400 people have participated in the community survey for the Tweed River Estuary Management Program but we want to hear from even more residents.

    The deadline for the survey has been extended until 19 November, so more people can provide their input.

    Click here to complete the online survey.

    Printed copies are available at Council’s Murwillumbah and Tweed offices and the libraries.

    Council staff will be on hand at the Murwillumbah Show this Friday and Saturday, as well as the Tweed River Festival family day at Tumbulgum on Saturday 12 November, to help people complete the survey.

    You can also click here to provide comments and upload photos about:

    • important locations or issues
    • what the Tweed River Estuary means to you
    • how you enjoy the Tweed River
  • Community online survey now open

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    almost 4 years ago

    Provide your feedback on the management of the Tweed River by completing a community online survey now open.

    The survey, being conducted by independent survey consultant Jetty Research, replicates the questions in a phone survey completed by Jetty Research in September.

    The phone survey randomly selected residents to get a statistically representative sample of community views for the management plan.

    Now everyone has the chance to give their feedback on the use and preservation of our iconic Tweed River.

    The community survey will be open until Monday 7 November at 9am.

    Printed copies of the survey are also available at Council's Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah offices and the libraries at Kingscliff, Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah.

  • The study area

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    almost 4 years ago

    The study area for the Plan is the tidal section of the Tweed River, between the Bray Park Weir at Murwillumbah and the mouth of the river at Tweed Heads.

    This includes the tidal section of the Rous River.

    The Tweed River catchment has an area of 1,326km2 and is almost entirely encompassed within Tweed Shire.

    Upstream of Murwillumbah, the Tweed and Oxley Rivers drain the steep ranges encircling Mt Warning-Wollumbin and meet at Byangum, just above the Bray Park Weir.

    Bray Park Weir is the upward limit of tidal influence and is where Tweed Shire's drinking water supply is extracted.

    Below Murwillumbah, the estuary meanders across an extensive floodplain dominated by sugar cane and is joined at Tumbulgum by its northern tributary, the Rous River.

    The Cobaki and Terranora systems are also major tributaries of the Tweed River system and join the estuary at Tweed Heads. However, the Cobaki and Terranora systems do not form part of the study area because they were assessed during preparation of the Cobaki and Terranora Broadwater Coastal Zone Management Plan in 2013.


  • Share your views

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    almost 4 years ago

    Public input is invited to provide insight to how the community values and uses the Tweed River Estuary.

    We want to hear from you about the important issues, management ideas and observations about the Tweed River as a whole, or about particular locations in the river and its catchment.

    This feedback will help identify management issues and help to tailor management solutions and actions in the plan.

    You can have your say in a number of ways.

    Click here to provide comments and upload photos about:

    • important locations or issues
    • what the Tweed River Estuary means to you
    • how you enjoy the Tweed River

    Click here to complete an online community survey open until Monday 7 November at 9am.

    Printed copies of the survey are also available at Council's Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah offices and the libraries at Kingscliff, Tweed Heads and Murwillumbah.

    A community survey will be conducted as a phone random survey during September. Project partner Jetty Research will complete the phone random survey to provide a statistically representative snapshot of the how Tweed residents value the Tweed River Estuary and the key issues about how it should be managed.

    The Draft Plan will be publicly available during 2018, when information sessions will enable community members to provide more input to the plan. Public submissions will be considered in the review and finalisation of the draft Coastal Management Plan.


  • Phone survey in September

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    almost 4 years ago

    Independent engagement consultants Jetty Research will conduct a phone random survey for Council during September, as a first step in community engagement for the Tweed River Estuary Coastal Management Program.

    The phone survey will randomly contact Tweed residents to get a statistically representative snapshot of community attitudes and uses of the Tweed River Estuary.

    An online questionnaire mirroring the phone survey is now open until Monday 7 November for the wider community to complete.