Council hands lake to Mother Nature
THE future health and even survival of Lismore Lake will be left to Mother Nature to decide, after the former State Government decided not to renew Lismore City Council's licence to pump water from the Wilsons River into the man-made structure.
The artificial lake was created by excavation in 1971 for fill for the construction of the Bruxner Hwy.
It has become a popular picnic site for tourists and bird-watching locals.
Lismore general manager Paul O'Sullivan said the council has not needed to pump water into the lake since 2009 and it would now continue to be managed “as if it were a natural system”.
“The intention is to rely on good periods of rainfall to slow water level decline and to accept the environment will experience seasonal variations.”
The problem is that it has a very small catchment area for run-off.
Kathryn Taffs, who teaches GeoScience at Southern Cross University and regularly takes students to the lake for field research, said she was not concerned about water no longer being pumped into the lake.
“It's not high quality habitat,” she said.
“I don't really have a problem with stopping pumping, given that it was probably quite energy intensive and council is probably trying to reduce their carbon footprint, which is a good thing.”
Dr Taffs said most of the fish in the lake were not native, nor were the majority of the weeds that she and her students regularly study.
Over time the water level would fall substantially because of climate change, threatening the survival of the small number of native fish.
“If the water levels drop the water temperature will also increase which will also put lot of pressure on native fish,” Dr Taffs said.
It may be different for birdlife. In 2001 a member of Birds of Australia said 75 bird species had been recorded at the lake, including the endangered and vulnerable Comb-crested Jacana and the Black-necked Stork.