THE NSW Government has approved $600,000 towards a dredge for Tuggerah Lakes after community outrage over unprecedented flooding this week, and after Central Coast Council was stopped from dredging at The Entrance in 2018 because of illegal discharges.
The funding was approved under the government's Rescuing Our Waterways Program after the council applied in June last year.
The build-up of sand at The Entrance close to the channel opening between the lakes system and the ocean has been cited as one issue contributing to flooding from Friday, that led residents to dig an unlawful second channel opening on Sunday as houses and businesses went under water.
By Tuesday, as thousands of homes and businesses were affected and main roads remained cut by floodwaters, Central Coast residents took to social media to vent their anger and demand action from the council and government.
Central Coast mayor Lisa Matthews said the council would match the state's $600,000 so that the dredging could be resumed.
Cr Matthews said it was great to see funding "finally flowing for The Entrance channel and the State Government on board to helping find a solution".
"Our community want answers and action and today's funding announcement means we can get on with the dredging program," she said.
"We have always been committed to a dredging program for the channel and have been carrying it out for over twenty years. The missing part recently has been the state government funding.
"The dredging is the short-term solution to the issues facing The Entrance channel. We need now to plan and act for the long term and I look forward to working with the NSW Government and our community to deliver that."
Cr Matthews will write to Environment Minister Matt Kean seeking advice on the status of an expert committee to improve water quality and flow in Tuggerah Lakes, that was promised during the state election.
In September the council was issued with an official caution over a breach of its sand dredging licence after using dredged sand from the channel area to replenish North Entrance beach.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority said the council breached its licence. Council disputed the allegation.
The EPA said slurry dredged from the channel had to be treated to remove pollutants including oil sludge, rocks and other debris.
The council said it successfully removed 45,000 cubic metres of sand from the channel in 2018 as part of its dredging program. The dredging program ensured an exchange of water between the ocean and the lake, the council said.