Shaws Bay Precinct

Water quality and amenity improvements

Ballina Shire Council has embarked on a series of actions from the Coastal Zone Management Plan to improve the Shaws Bay precinct for the health of the ecosystem and our community. 


Shaws Bay is the body of water that was formed when the northern training wall of the Richmond River was constructed near the river entrance at Ballina.

The bay comprises part of the former river course and exchanges water with the main river every day. It is a popular spot for leisure activities such as picnicking, swimming, snorkelling, canoeing and walking.

The area is very scenic and the landform varies from gently sloping beaches to a steep sandy escarpment which retains littoral rainforest species. The seagrasses in the bay are regarded as some of the best in northern NSW and provide a wonderful environment for safe snorkelling.

Protecting the health of the bay and providing community access

As you may have observed in recent months, Ballina Shire Council has been undertaking a variety of foreshore and amenity improvement works around Shaws Bay. These projects are part of the implementation of the Shaws Bay Coastal Zone Management Plan which was formally certified and gazetted by the NSW government in 2016.

Ballina Shire Council will progressively work through these actions, and has identified the following works to progress (see factsheets below for more information).

Actions completed or underway

  • Mangrove removal occuring annually along the training wall and on the western foreshore adjacent to Compton Drive (juvenile mangroves and as per licence from Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries).
  • Water testing and monitoring for recreational swimming quality under the Beachwatch Program commenced and occurs weekly.
  • New toilet facilities at Pop Denison Park.

Action 1: Control bank erosion and siltation into the bay

Objective: Improve the water quality of the bay and the recreational amenity of the reserve. Improve access from the reserves to the bay.

These works are now finalised with banks stabilised and access to the bay improved. Sandy beaches have been created and access to other areas has been limited to allow for revegetation. 

Council is also finalising the design plans to continue the walkway through the reserve to improve public access. The plans will also include the installation of recreational facilities such as picnic shelters and seating. These works are due to commence early to mid May 2018. 
Anticipated Completion: Late May 2018

Budget: $650,000

Funding partners: Ballina Shire Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, Department of Industry - Lands.

Action 2: Dredging

Objective: Reduce infilling and improve water circulation.

This component is purley for the investigation into the feasability of dredging Shaws Bay. This also includes the preparation of studies and obtaining the relevant approvals. Once approvals/permits are obtained Council will apply for grant funding to complete the dredging works.

  • Dredging – Two areas in the main section of the Bay will be dredged to reduce siltation, maintain deep water, improve tidal circulation within the Bay and decrease water quality risks.
  • Sand Processing – Dredged material will be pumped from the dredge areas to a temporary processing site at the northern end of Pop Denison Park. Processing will first involve screening of the sand to remove shells, large organic matter and other debris. This sand will then be pumped through a hydro-cyclone to remove silt and fine organic material to produce clean sand. This sand will be an ideal resource for beach improvement works.
  • Beach improvement – After processing, the dredged sand will be transported back to a number of locations around Shaws Bay by either truck or earth moving equipment. Sand will be used to ‘top up’ existing beaches and address areas of bank erosion. There will also be significant expansion of one beach on the eastern foreshore, which together with improved access from Pop Denison Park, will greatly enhance the amenity of this location.
  • Ecological enhancement – The northern area of Shaws Bay was identified in the CZMP as an ecological protection zone to balance impacts associated with amenity improvement in other areas. As a part of this project some of this area will be managed to create additional saltmarsh habitat, an endangered ecological community that provides important habitat for a large range of estuarine species. The provision of this habitat will not only benefit the ecological community and improve the ecological value of the Bay but in conjunction with the improvement of Pop Denison Park provide a chance for education, appreciation and enjoyment of the habitat by the broader community.

See below for Hydrosphere Consulting detailed reports. 

Timeline to commence: Investigation already underway 

Anticipated Completion: July 2018 (investigation, studies and approvals)

Budget: $110,000 

Funding partners: Ballina Shire Council and the Office of Environment and Heritage. 

Action 3: Improve Compton Drive Foreshore

Objective: Enhance safety and recreational amenity of the foreshore and improve stormwater systems and treatments.

These works are being finalised with pedestrian refuge, additional seating and recreational facilities currently being installed. Carparking on the foreshore has been formalised as well as safer shared path access through the foreshore. Realignment of stormwater and improved treatment also installed.

Anticipated Completion: May 2018

Budget: $380,000

Funding partners: Ballina Shire Council.

Action 4: Expand Pop Denison Park

Objective: Enhance ecological value, foreshore access and recreational amenity of the Park.

These works improve access to the eastern foreshore. The shared path will also continue through this precinct with additional carparking. 

Timeline to commence: 2018/2019

Budget: $350,000

Funding partners: Ballina Shire Council.

Factsheets and Reports:

Further information:

Development and Environmental Health Group, Ph: 02 6686 1210. 

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