The Saltwater Creek and Lagoon estuary is a small Intermittently Closed and Open Lake or Lagoon (ICOLL), situated adjacent to South West Rocks, on the mid-north coast of NSW – within the Kempsey Shire LGA and within the bounds of the Hat Head and Arakoon National Parks.

The estuary is a valuable recreational and social asset for the local community, as well as for the multitude of regional tourist that visit South West Rocks every year.  Virtually all of the estuary is designated as state-significant coastal wetlands, and a significant biodiversity is present including notable species of birds, fish, reptiles and mammals.


Coastal Management Program for the Saltwater Creek and Lagoon estuary


Saltwater Creek, Kempsey


Kempsey Shire Council

However, the estuary is facing increases pressure from urban development within its catchment. The South West Rocks area is projected to experience a 40% increase in population over the next 15 years, and a series of major developments are planned for the study area catchment during this period. Catchment runoff and urban stormwater discharge are already a major source of water quality issues across the estuary, which as an ICOLL comprises a sensitive receiving system.

In March 2020, Water Technology was commissioned by Kempsey Shire Council to undertake Stage 1 of its Coastal Management Program (CMP), in line with the NSW Coastal Management Framework. The study included:

  • A thorough review of existing management practices;
  • A first-pass-risk-assessment to identify the various risks that currently affecting system, as well as those emerging risk which may affect the estuary over future management timeframes;
  • Engagement with a range of stakeholders, including Kempsey Shire Council, various state government agencies, local community groups and indigenous interest groups; and
  • A forward plan for the remaining stages of the CMP, outlining the project timing, costs and scope of works.

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