The coastal environment

The urban area of Sutherland Shire is surrounded by coastal waters, including Bate Bay, Botany Bay, the Georges River estuaries, Port Hacking and Woronora River.

Our coast is dynamic. The beaches at Cronulla and Kurnell are continually subjected to ocean waves and storm surges, which cause short-term beach erosion and long-term beach recession.

erosion at North Cronulla beach Coastal erosion at North Cronulla 2022
Coastal erosion at North Cronulla 1974 Coastal erosion at North Cronulla 1974

Estuaries are defined by the interplay of daily tides, ocean swells and freshwater inflows.

This constant water movement causes the continual shifting of marine sands in Port Hacking. Fine sediment from local catchments and estuaries collect at the heads of the bays in Port Hacking and in the Georges River. Fluvial flooding of the Woronora River estuary is influenced by downstream water levels in the Georges River.

Since European settlement, flat, low-lying areas at the heads of the estuarine bays have been progressively reclaimed for landfill, playing fields and urban development. These areas are subject to oceanic, hydrological, ecological and geomorphologic processes.

NSW coastal management framework

The NSW Government's coastal management framework aims to achieve a healthy and resilient coastline.

The framework is implemented through Coastal Management Programs (CMPs), which are prepared by local councils and set long-term, coordinated and sustainable management directions.

Our staged approach to CMPs

Figure 15 Staged approach to Coastal Management Programs

Sutherland Shire has three CMPs:

  • Bate Bay CMP: Stage 4 has been completed. Stage 5 includes beach nourishment, the upgrade of the Esplanade between Cronulla and North Cronulla beaches and the construction of a seawall at Dunningham Park.
  • Georges River and Catchments CMP: CMP Stage 1 has been completed by Georges Riverkeeper, with a focus on improving the ecological health of the river.
  • Port Hacking CMP: Stage 1 is set to begin and will be overseen by Council’s Port Hacking Management Sub-Committee. The CMP will focus on balancing the environment and recreation.

Estuary studies and management plans

Regional collaboration

Sutherland Shire Council is an active member of Georges Riverkeeper and the Sydney Coastal Councils Group. These groups advocate for improving the health and resilience of our coasts and estuaries.