Remediation works are underway at Lake Tabourie and Wairo Beach, south of Ulladulla, to repair an illegally dug channel.
On January 6, Shoalhaven City Council backfilled a small channel that had been dug by members of the public between Lake Tabourie and the ocean at Wairo Beach.
A council spokesperson said the channel had been illegally made using shovels over the Christmas period and was repaired by council shortly after in the interest of public safety and the health of the lake.
Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said the channel could have resulted in the lake artificially opening at too low a water level and in unsuitable conditions.
"This could have had significant adverse environmental impacts on Lake Tabourie, such as low oxygen levels and associated fish kills," she said.
“It is an offence to open coastal lakes, or lagoons, using machinery or by hand without a license and could result in penalties of up to $220,000 per offence.
“By working together Lake Tabourie will remain a pristine and beautiful location for current and future generations to enjoy,” Cr Findley added.
Council operates an Entrance Management Policy for Lake Tabourie and other coastal lakes in the Shoalhaven region with licenses from various State Government Agencies.
This policy allows council to mechanically open Lake Tabourie to the ocean with an excavator to prevent flooding of low-lying properties surrounding the lake when the water level rises, typically following a large rainfall event, to a specific trigger level.
The trigger level for council to undertake a mechanical opening of Lake Tabourie was not reached over the Christmas period when the small channel was made.