12 April 2024

Wild weather washes away more of lake foreshore forcing removal of playground

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Playground on the edge of a lake

The Windang playground is at risk of falling into Lake Illawarra. Photo: D. Wiecek/Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

A children’s playground at Windang at risk of collapsing into Lake Illawarra has been removed.

Wollongong City Council dismantled the playground on Friday (12 April) but has assured the community a replacement will be built.

More than a metre of the shoreline has been washed away since Wollongong was declared a natural disaster area last week, leaving the playground’s soft fall base dangling into the lake.

The playground had been closed for some time due to the increasing erosion problems.

READ ALSO Mayor calls for more urgency on study into ‘massive’ Lake Illawarra erosion issues

The council decided to remove the playground to address urgent public safety concerns and prevent the materials from washing into the lake or damaging the sensitive area.

Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said there had been a significant and rapid escalation in erosion at the site since the flood event on 5-6 April.

“We know there is an underlying issue with erosion along the Windang foreshore area and we’ve been working with Shellharbour City Council and other state agencies, including NSW Crown Lands and the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, to develop plans to address this in the long term,” he said.

“However, the significant rainfall last weekend and the volume of stormwater that has entered the lake over the past week have seen a rapid increase in erosion. The currents have scoured banks and groynes, moving material from the northern side of the lake and building up sand on its southern side.

Compilation of photos showing erosion at the playground

A compilation of photos showing erosion at the playground following the destructive weather event on 5-6 April. Photo: Illawarra Weather Warnings & Local Media.

Earlier this year, Cr Bradbery flagged concerns that the Lake Illawarra Entrance Options Study would not be available to council until the end of this year.

The study is investigating how to manage the impacts and changes that have occurred around the lake entrance and foreshore since the lake was permanently opened in 2007.

“There’s a sense of urgency about this in that there’s erosion of the channel and, more specifically, erosion on the northern side [Wollongong City Council side] affecting the playground and other assets there,” he told Region Illawarra.

READ ALSO Insurers put on notice to pay up quickly as Illawarra residents count the cost of devastating floods

Council general manager Greg Doyle said the severe weather significantly impacted the Windang foreshore area and public spaces.

“We will build a new playground in nearby parkland for locals and visitors to enjoy as we know this special area is important to so many,” he said.

“Since 2007, when Lake Illawarra’s entrance channel was permanently opened, we’ve seen significant erosion of the foreshore.

“This was not a decision of council, but we’re now in a position where our community and public assets are being impacted by the resulting fast-flowing tidal water passing through the channel.

“The impact of climate change and the likelihood of more flood and storm events like what we experienced last weekend and in February 2022 mean that this type of erosion is not a one-off event.

“While there have been challenges with this site for some time, the escalation of erosion clearly demonstrates an increased urgency for all agencies involved to move forward collaboratively on immediate and long-term plans to manage the lake and surrounds.’’

Some playground equipment is expected to be reused at another site.

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