Aquatic Recreation Usage Studies of Narrabeen Lagoon

For Warringah Council.

Narrabeen Lagoon is a highly valued recreational, environmental and scenic asset for the residents of Warringah, Pittwater and beyond.  The lagoon, which covers 2.2km² in surface area, has a long and well established history of recreational use – for pursuits such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, fishing, windsurfing and more recently for stand-up paddle boarding as well as shoreline or in-shore activities such as waterplay, fishing and swimming.

Users see water quality and depth as key determinants of the lagoon’s recreational value and appeal.  The desirability of dredging to open shallow areas up for recreational use has been an on-going stakeholder issue.  Over 2012-13 Warringah Council developed a short-list of 12 recreational dredging options – based on a range of environmental feasibility, economic and cost/benefit factors.  Gondwana Consulting was commissioned to undertake an aquatic recreation usage study of the lagoon’s central and western basins to assess the potential recreational benefits and costs of each of these 12 dredging options.  The project comprised:

  • a review of previous recreation studies undertaken in 2001 and 2011;
  • full-day surveys of water-based recreation user numbers, and the types of recreational use, of the lagoon – conducted on weekdays and weekends in April and May 2013 (including school and public holiday periods);
  • assessments of the usage, capacity and adequacy of the surrounding shoreline infrastructure supporting water-based recreation;
  • liaison with nominated recreation user groups – regarding their views on the 12 environmentally feasible dredging options, as well as current membership numbers and use of the lagoon;
  • assessing, and ranking, the potential recreational benefits and costs (including the user groups potentially advantaged or disadvantaged) of each of the 12 dredging options, and the likely implications of each for shoreline facilities and infrastructure; and
  • estimating recreational usage levels at other times of the year, including at peak times such as summer holidays.