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Lake Hugh Muntz

Lake Hugh Muntz algal bloom - Water quality update

Water quality sampling has confirmed that blue-green algae levels at Lake Hugh Muntz (LHM) have returned to acceptable levels in accordance with the National Guidelines.

Weekly water quality testing has confirmed that both the algae and toxin concentrations have declined and are no longer at a level where they pose a risk to public health.

Whilst the algal bloom has declined significantly, the species of algae that has persisted in LHM (Chrysosporum ovalisporum) is known to produce spores. These spores can often remain dormant in the sediment of a waterbody and become activated when weather conditions become favourable, especially during warmer temperatures. This may result in another algal bloom in the near future as temperatures increase during summer.

Whilst temporary warning signage has been removed from the lake, please continue to exercise caution and avoid contact with water:

  • where scums or floating debris are visible
  • that looks discoloured, murky or smells unpleasant
  • near stormwater drains
  • for up to three (3) days after heavy rainfall
  • if you have an open wound or infection

Routine water quality sampling will continue at LHM to monitor conditions. Should conditions change, further advice will be provided.

Signage has been installed in public access areas and we're investigating ways to improve water quality in the lake system. A Lake Hugh Muntz Action Plan Timeline has been developed which indicates the proposed timelines for the current investigations and the possible implementation of feasible solutions.

Update on project Lake Hugh Muntz - 10 August 2018

In response to the ongoing algal bloom, the City has engaged Griffith University to provide specialist advice on ways to reduce future occurrences of algal blooms within the lake.

The City has also allocated $100,000 in the current budget to directly assist with implementing feasible options.

Griffith University has researched twenty potential management options that have been used in Australia and around the world to help decide what may work best for the lake. They have also collected water samples from the lake and undertaken tests on the isolated and cultured algae in the laboratory, testing the effect of Hydrogen Peroxide and Phoslock® as well as nutrient loads on the algae.

Over the coming months Griffith University will deploy special chambers to trial these options in sections of the lake to determine if they would work in practice.

Significant modelling work has been undertaken to increase the understanding of the lake ecosystem and to test different engineering options.

Ongoing weekly monitoring will continue to assess the blue green algae biovolume.

A number of the options that were evaluated by Griffith University have already been implemented by the City, particularly in reducing sediment and organic matter from entering the lake. This includes planting around 200 plants around the lake in high use stormwater catchments.

We have also installed 66 gully baskets inside the stormwater drains that capture sediment and other litter, and regularly clean them. These baskets capture 16,000 kg of organics and litter every year that would otherwise entered the lake.

We will continue to keep you informed of progress while we continue our work with community groups and Griffith University.

Read the interim report and evaluation of these management options completed by Griffith University.

All residents in the catchment area can help by minimising what nutrients flow into the lake through run off from gardens, car cleaning and pets.

More about algal blooms

Algae blooms are a common and naturally occurring component of most fresh water and estuarine ecosystems and can be caused by various environmental conditions such as warmer temperatures, water turnover and nutrient levels. Blooms such as this can often persist for a number of months until nutrient sources are depleted.

The recent lack of rainfall has played a significant role in this algal bloom. To put this in perspective, over the last 36 months (3 years), 24 months have had below average rainfall.

History of Lake Hugh Muntz

Lake Hugh Muntz is a constructed waterbody that was developed in the early 1980’s. Extracted material from an area of the lake was used to build up the surrounding area to provide adequate height and flood protection for the subdivision. The general design of urban lakes during that period were undertaken to hold stormwater from the surrounding catchment.

The lake was named in honour of Councillor Muntz, OBE who was a member of the Albert Shire Council from August 17 1950 to January 24 1967 and then Chairman of the Council until his retirement in 1982.

Lake Hugh Muntz was the first lake to be constructed as part of the Robina Master Plan.

General characteristics of the lake are as follows:

  • forms part of the stormwater drainage system
  • provides a stormwater detention function
  • accepts stormwater from 16 pipe outlets
  • the lake receives an exchange of water from the nearby canal through a pipe under Barrier Reef Drive during periods of high tide
  • 17 hectares in area
  • depth varies up to 12 metres
  • volume of approximately 282 Olympic swimming pools
  • water in the lake is brackish – this means that it is neither saltwater nor freshwater
  • shoreline is 3298 metres.
Lake Hugh Muntz

When the lake was first constructed, it was filled predominantly through groundwater recharge and stormwater runoff and was considered a freshwater lake. During the first decade the lake experienced very low pH which has been attributed to the groundwater recharge. This low pH prevented the growth of aquatic plants in the lake and it was with the widening of the adjacent canal system that saline water could flow through the exchange pipe more freely. This intrusion of saline water helped the system become more pH neutral and aquatic life began to flourish.

During periods of drought the water salinity levels can fluctuate and the lake can alternate between fresh and brackish. These changes in salinity can affect the aquatic plant growth in the lake which is very important for good water quality.

Prior to urban development, the site was part of an extensive wetland and floodplain, consisting of vegetation communities such as Melaleuca swamp land. There is little evidence of these historical communities remaining.

Water quality monitoring in Lake Hugh Muntz

The City has a range of ongoing water quality monitoring programmes for Lake Hugh Muntz. These include the water quality monitoring programme (WQMP), the routine recreational water quality monitoring programme (RecWaters) and a Lake Hugh Muntz algae monitoring programme.

The WQMP conducted in Lake Hugh Muntz sample the following parameters: temperature, electrical conductivity, pH, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen, ammonia, oxidised nitrogen, total phosphorus, orthophosphate, turbidity, total suspended solids and chlorophyll a.

Click to enlarge Lake Hugh Muntz water quality location map

Lake Hugh Muntz water quality
location map

The Lake Hugh Muntz algae monitoring program is also being conducted under the guidance of the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water 2008.

Sampling is currently being performed at four locations around the lake: Bel Air Park; Warringah Park; Morialta Park and; Otway Park. Samples are collected for algal identification and biovolume, as well as pH, temperature, conductivity, dissolved oxygen and temperature.

View cyanobacteria biovolume data.

Worker monitoring water quality

Monitoring water quality helps to:

  • learn more about the ecological health of the lake and its suitability for recreation
  • identify trends in water quality
  • effectively investigate and diagnose water quality issues
  • compare results with national standards
  • measure the effectiveness of management efforts conducted by the City.

To find out more about waterways monitoring, contact our Catchment Management team on 07 5582 8211 or 1300 GOLDCOAST (1300 465 326).

Other City programs around the lake

The City has initiated an increased schedule of street sweeping to help remove organic material from the roads and gutters. This program aims to help reduce organic loading into the lake.

The City’s mowing contractors mow the sections closest to the lake in a certain direction so that the ejected grass clippings are being blown away from the lake. The City investigated the use of having the mowing contractors use a catcher on the mowers but due to the size of the area to be mowed proved to be financially unviable.

Recreational water quality and public health


The City is managing the lake in accordance with the levels and action framework included in the National Health Medical Research Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters 2008 (the National guidelines). This is a nationally recognised standard. The City also is guided by the Queensland Harmful Algal Bloom Plan and Operational Procedures 2014. These procedures are applied across Queensland.

Water testing has identified a number of non-harmful species and a number of species that have the potential to produce toxins. The City has taken a precautionary approach and has erected signage designed to further reduce potential risks to public health. This decision has been made on the basis of monitoring results that have identified toxin producing blue green algae (BGA) at levels which exceed the National guidelines.

Despite the presence of BGA species that have the potential to produce toxins, toxins may not always be present. The production of toxins is difficult to predict and varies depending on a number of environmental and climatic factors. The primary routes of exposure during recreational water use can occur through:

  • direct contact with the body whilst swimming/recreating;
  • accidental ingestion of water; and
  • consumption of fish or shellfish caught within the waterbody.

For this reason the City continues to monitor Lake Hugh Muntz and reminds residents and visitors (including their animals) to follow signed advice and refrain from contact with the lake.

Microbial Water Quality

The City is committed to managing and caring for our waterways. From time to time however, the quality of our waterways can change which can potentially affect the health of its users.

There is a strong link between rainfall events and the health of our waterways. Rainfall often collects pollutants from streets, gardens and farms, before it is flushed into our ocean and rivers via the storm water system. As a result, pathogens (bacteria, viruses and parasites) have an increased likelihood of being transported into our waterways from the catchment.

It is not possible to know the exact levels of pathogens or microbial pollution in a given waterway at all times, and the results from waterway monitoring only indicate the levels present at the time the sample was taken. It takes a minimum of 24 hours to obtain results by which time the microbial pollution may no longer be present.

The water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz is influenced by the local catchment area. Stormwater and residential run-off into the lake is untreated and can increase bacterial levels in the water making it unsafe for swimming. The City cannot guarantee suitable recreational water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz, due to the design and nature of the lake.

The City operates eight aquatic centres across the city that provide a safe swimming environment when water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz is unsuitable.

More information can be found on our Recreational water quality page.

Blue green algae in Lake Hugh Muntz

Blue-green algae is a tiny micro-organism that belongs to the cyanobacteria family. The algae can be found in freshwater lake systems when there is an increase in nutrient level, sunlight and stable water columns.

To find out more about this micro-organism, download the Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) fact sheet.

Related information

Jump to key information
  • What has the City done to help improve Lake Hugh Muntz?

    The following excerpt from the Lake Hugh Muntz management plan, describes planned strategies and their outcomes.

    Strategy Recommendation Priority Outcome
    1. Improvement of water quality (WQ) monitoring program 1.1 Ensure consistent timing of sampling Immediate Completed, ongoing reviews of the WQ monitoring program have been ongoing
    1.2 Increase sampling frequency from quarterly to monthly Medium for consideration Completed
    1.3 Consider deployment of two data loggers within ‘dead spots’ For consideration Investigated - under consideration
    1.4 Hydrolab DS5X : DO, pH, temp, cond, turbidity, chlo a, blue green algae, depth For consideration Investigated - under consideration
    2. Improvements to stormwater quality 2.1 Provide more rubbish bins in adjacent park areas Medium Completed, ongoing maintenance
    2.2 Undertake detailed investigation of stormwater infrastructure and prepare a stormwater improvement implementation plan High Completed
    2.3 Prepare the detailed design of stormwater improvement devices as per the recommendations of the stormwater improvement implementation plan Medium Completed
    2.5 Construction of bio retention filters Medium Investigated - Not feasible due to numerous constraints including, land acquisition, loss of on street parking
    2.6 Construction of stormwater wetlands Medium Investigated - Not a feasible option due to comments from community
    2.7 construction of vegetative swales either in combination with or as an alternative to bio retention filters Medium Investigated - Not a feasible option as per the detailed investigation of the stormwater improvement plan
    3. Control of aquatic vegetation and sediment assessment 3.1 Periodic harvesting of vegetation at entrance points for swimming Low: no current need. Review annually as required Completed – Ongoing site inspections – harvesting program under review
    3.2 Further benthic assessment investigation of submerged aquatic plant cover and sediment texture Medium - High Considered – No current aquatic plant cover
    3.3 Bioavailability testing of sediment contaminates* High In progress
    4. Control of pest fish populations 4.1 Bass stocking for control of noxious species Low Considered - Not completed due to lack of available habitat
    4.2 Consider further surveying to confirm species present Low Completed - Some further spot investigations have been undertaken (ongoing)
    5. Control of Algae / Cyanobacteria 5.1 Undertake a detailed monitoring program for 12 months to define on-going program. Include additional water quality sampling of; algae, chlor-a, nutrients, temp Medium Completed – ongoing water quality monitoring program
    5.2 Data interpretation and sampling re-evaluation Medium Completed – ongoing analysis of water quality data
    6. Information transfer 6.1 Produce and mail out information brochures Medium Completed – periodical
    6.2 Maintain updated website High: weekly algae report Completed – ongoing improvements will be undertaken
    6.3 Construct, design and install information / interpretive display boards in four adjacent parks Medium Completed – information sign installed at Bel Air Park

    *Sediment analysis is being undertaken from a number of locations around the lake.

  • What is the City doing to help improve Lake Hugh Muntz?

    Due to this unprecedented algal bloom, the City has engaged experts from Griffith University in the fields of water chemistry, cyanobacteria and lake restoration to review the current algal bloom and its characteristics. These experts will assist in developing recommendations to address the current algal bloom and help reduce the frequency and intensity of future algal blooms.

    All recommendations will be examined against the dynamics and specifics of Lake Hugh Muntz and the environmental, social and financial benefit assessments. This lake has undergone a number of significant changes over its 35 year life and all recommendations need to be assessed to avoid introducing solutions that may have a detrimental impact. In conjunction with these recommendations the 2008 management plan will also be reviewed and updated. This will ensure the plan’s initiatives are reflective of the current characteristics of the lake.

  • What is the City doing to monitor water quality in Lake Hugh Muntz?

    Currently, Lake Hugh Muntz has a number of water quality sampling sites part of Council’s coordinated city-wide water quality monitoring program. For information on Council’s water quality monitoring program, please see Water Quality Monitoring and Management.

  • How can I help to improve Lake Hugh Muntz?

    The stormwater entering Lake Hugh Muntz is largely untreated, therefore the growth of aquatic plants is highly dependent on the condition of the catchment and the way in which residents use chemicals (e.g. fertilisers) and dispose of waste (e.g. grass clippings, dog faeces). It is vital that all residents ensure that fertilisers, detergents, pet droppings, lawn and garden clippings don’t wash into the lake. When washed into the lake, these substances break down into a ready supply of plant-available nutrients, stimulating further aquatic plant and algal growth.

    Information about stormwater and the impacts of stormwater pollution on our waterways, can found on our Stormwater responsible page.

  • Who manages revetment walls within Lake Hugh Muntz?

    Further information can be found on Revetment Walls.

  • Who do I contact when I find injured wildlife?

    If you find injured wildlife and can safely transport it, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary provides emergency veterinary care. Further information on injured wildlife can be found at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital Foundation.

    Alternatively, you can contact one of the Wildlife Rescue and Care organisations which can be found at Wildlife Rescue and Care.

  • Can I swim at Lake Hugh Muntz?

    The water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz is influenced by the local catchment area. Stormwater and residential run-off into the lake is untreated and can increase bacterial levels in the water making it unsafe for swimming.

    The City cannot guarantee suitable recreational water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz, due to the design and nature of the lake. The City operates eight aquatic centres across the city that provide a safe swimming environment when water quality at Lake Hugh Muntz is unsuitable.