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Clr Dawn Emerson - Deputy Mayor, Sutherland Shire Council

Thankyou and good morning everyone. Good morning also to our fellow Councillors, parliamenterials, particularly Mr John Aquilina, Minister for Land and Water Conservation, Mr Barry Collier, Member for Miranda, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. As Deputy Mayor of Sutherland Shire it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the Sutherland Shire Environment Centre and Port Hacking Protection Society's Urban Estuaries Forum. I'd like to thank our hosts the Sutherland Environment Centre and the Port Hacking Protection Society for hosting this forum. Both organisations have brought together a wide cross section of stakeholders, decision-makers and speakers and have provided an alternative forum to explore the important issue of estuary management, which is to be applauded.

Sutherland Shire Council is committed to preserving and enhancing our waterways. In fact water quality improvement is one of the three key water strategies in Council's draft 'Blueprint for Action'. This strategy has identified opportunities, and seeks to undertake actions, to enhance the health and beauty of the Shire's waterways, beaches, wetlands and aquatic habitats. After all, we're all but surrounded by water. The report in the consultation process for the first draft of the 'Blueprint for Action' is near to completion and early indication of residents has confirmed the need to better manage our stormwater and estuaries. On a more practical level, Council is preparing Estuary Management Plans for Gymea and Gunnamatta Bays. To date Council's consultants have finalised the process studies. The management studies are nearing completion and the draft management plans will go on public exhibition in July. Implementation of the strategies identified in the management plans will follow. An Estuary Management Plan is being completed for Yowie Bay, and Council is also exploring the possibility of developing an integrated management plan for all our estuarine environments and we'll keep you posted as we proceed.

Finally, on behalf of the community, I 'd like to welcome you all to what promises to be a comprehensive and very informative forum.

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