Heavy rainfall and a subsequent flood warning for minor to moderate flooding over the weekend allowed MidCoast Council to use emergency powers to open Farquhar Inlet at Old Bar, to alleviate flooding risks for the lower Manning.
Council's contractors were on standby over the weekend to open Farquhar Inlet once the flood warning was received early Sunday morning, February 9 from the SES and Bureau of Meteorology which, along with council's emergency management team, were monitoring rainfall and river heights.
Two excavators working at low tide opened the inlet at around 3pm Sunday.
Council's manager of natural systems, Gerard Tuckerman said the location of the opening was determined on a number of factors - it was both the lowest section of the beach and linked to a deep back channel resulting in a good release point for the river, and the last place the inlet closed back in 2017.
"The opening over the weekend was installed purely as a flood management measure, to allow a quick opening to ease river levels," Mr Tuckerman said.
"In this instance the flooding behind the beach berm reached and exceeded the required trigger of 1.6m at the Farquhar gauge, making it imperative that a narrow channel was excavated to allow flood waters to exit and scour the entrance."
Since the inlet closed in October 2017, there has been a significant number of requests from the public to have it reopened, however this ordinarily requires a Crown Lands licence to undertake the work.
"We're in the process of acquiring the licence, however emergency powers can be used in the case of a flood warning and that's how we were able to do this over the weekend."
The opening instantly helped to ease river levels and a crowd of locals were on hand to witness the release event, but council is urging the public to be mindful that this is a temporary flood relief measure.
Council says it is appreciative of the assistance of locals who provided knowledge towards this outcome.
"We do need to stress that the natural dynamics of the system will eventually close the inlet again, once this rain eases and river flows slow. This could happen quickly if follow up rain does not eventuate," Mr Tuckerman said.
"We are working with the key stakeholders and Crown Lands to better manage the inlet in the future, not just as a reactive measure."
Members of the public are also reminded that the opening will cause changes in the area and to take care and stay back from the opening.
To find out more about council's management of the Manning River visit to the website www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/ourmanningriver
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