June 23 - 29, 2019: Issue 410


residents express concerns over water turbidity during Construction of narrabeen lagoon Aquatic Boardwalk and Disturbance of Aquatic birds during Black Swan Breeding Season

In March 2018 a community consultation commenced on the proposal to install a boardwalk into the Narrabeen Lagoon. The consultation followed on from a March 2017 Aquatic Boardwalk Design.

As Background, Council stated that;
'since completion of stage 2b of the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail (NLT) in 2015 the recreational trail has enjoyed high popularity with the community and the Trail is considered a success in promoting a healthy lifestyle while also providing sustainable access to the natural environment.

Council has developed a safe solution for the northern side of the lagoon where the trail is adjacent to the Wakehurst Parkway. This narrow section of trail is a potential hazard for bike riders and pedestrians.

This existing path is in an environmentally sensitive area. The embankment is too unstable to construct a cantilevered structure and would require removal of all vegetation along this part of the riparian zone.'

The underlying basis for this option is stressed as 'This is the only alternative route for the trail around the constraints of the Wakehurst Parkway.'

To address the constraints and risks noted Council developed a boardwalk that crosses the bay. 

The Proposal outlined:
The boardwalk has been design to follow an alignment that has minimal environmental disturbance and the methodology for construction has been specified to ensure there is no impact on surrounding sea grass beds.

The benefits of this aquatic boardwalk are that it eliminates the risks involved with a land based solution and:
  • Preserves the Aboriginal heritage items on the shore
  • Provides a consistent level of service with rest of the NLT
  • Resolves safety hazards
  • Enables the remediation of the riparian zone (included in the scope of the project)
  • Provides a much better experience being well removed from major arterial road.
The key features of the design include:
  • Turpentine piles to ensure there is no leaching of harmful chemicals from concrete or treated pine piles into the waterway
  • 2.5m width of boardwalk to comply with shared path requirements
  • Inbuilt pockets in the boardwalk abutments to provide habitat opportunity
  • The alignment and construction methodology has been determined by the current bed of dead seagrass to ensure that living beds of seagrass are protected.
Pittwater Online News received emails from distressed residents and environment groups opposed to any boardwalk jutting into the lagoon during the consultation period. Comments closed on May 6th, 2018.

In response to community engagement on the boardwalk project, Council revisited two options for terrestrial location of the walkway parallel to the Wakehurst Parkway and compared them to the proposed aquatic boardwalk.

In December 2018 the aquatic boardwalk alignment as exhibited was accepted as the final design for the following reasons:
  • best practice safety for pedestrians and cyclists
  • minimal environmental impact
  • diversity of recreation experience on the trail
  • aesthetically pleasing outcome from the waterway
  • ability for Council to undertake riparian and foreshore revegetation and restoration of the degraded lagoon edge along the Parkway
On Friday, May 17th, 2019 Council announced that work will commence on May 20th on the new section of the popular Narrabeen Lagoon Trail, creating an overwater boardwalk on the northern side of the lagoon.

'An upgrade is essential to ensure public safety and to provide the community with a unique experience via relocating the trail away from the Wakehurst Parkway.' the statement said

'The new boardwalk will also enable Council to restore the riparian zone and habitat corridor along the northern foreshore of the lagoon.

The Trail, used by thousands of locals and visitors each week, is a great way to keep fit and also provides sustainable access to the spectacular natural environment around the lagoon.'

Northern Beaches Council Mayor Michael Regan said the aquatic boardwalk would be an important and picturesque addition to the Trail.

“We have all seen in recent years just how much the Northern Beaches has enjoyed what the Narrabeen Lagoon Trail has to offer.

“Be it keen runners, bike riders or those enjoying a leisurely stroll, it offers something for everyone.

“Not only will this upgrade improve safety, it will provide a lovely view across the lagoon as well as protect, restore and enhance the local environment,’’ the Mayor said.

Construction is set to continue over the next few months with some temporary closures on weekdays. 

Soon after the works commenced former Mayor of Pittwater David James OAM raised concerns over the construction being done during what is the recognised breeding season for the black swans that have returned to the lagoon in recent years, with 80 present and counted by November 2016.

Bird council at Narrabeen Lagoon, April 2013 - Photo by A J Guesdon.

Earlier this week Pittwater Pathways' John Illingsworth sent in the video that runs below which raises some questions into how the works are being carried out, how the aquatic birds that were gathering are now being dispersed, and reiterates a dislike for the encroachment into the lagoon of any structure.

Narrabeen ward Councillor Vincent De Luca OAM has advised Pittwater Online News that he has submitted the following Question with Notice for this Tuesday's, June 25th, 2019, Council Meeting:

A. Can Council staff please review the video at https://youtu.be/5dBwYwNHirU of Emeritus Mayor David James OAM, in which he raises numerous concerns as to non-compliance with standards for barges, engineering and threats to bird life in relation to the raised cycle/walk way around Narrabeen Lagoon and respond to those concerns?
B. What measures are being implemented to ensure there is no turbidity from the works?
C. What monitoring will Council staff undertake to ensure compliance during the works?
D. What action has Council taken and will continue to take to protect the Black Swans and other bird life?

Black swans are legally protected in NSW. The birds are monogamous breeders, meaning that each breeding pair stays together for life and shares incubation and cygnet rearing between them. Right now, Winter, is their breeding season.

Completion of the walkway is scheduled for October 2019.