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Lake Hugh Muntz

Amber Level Alert as at 22 September 2020

The City is investigating the causes of the elevated cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) levels. We are increasing water sampling to enable the accurate assessment of risks to recreational users.

View the latest water quality graph.

Lake Hugh Muntz is a dynamic living environment far removed from that of a chlorinated and filtered swimming pool. The lake has experienced periods of fluctuating water quality including blue-green algae blooms. Therefore, the City cannot maintain the lake as a swimming area or guarantee water quality.

As with all lakes and waterways on the Gold Coast, the City works to support a healthy ecosystem in Lake Hugh Muntz. There are many factors beyond our control that make it impossible to maintain suitable water quality for such recreation. These factors include:

  • the general design of the lake to depths of up to 12 metres
  • the lake receiving inflows from 16 stormwater pipes
  • limited tidal exchange
  • groundwater inputs
  • overland runoff from the surrounding area
  • changing and unpredictable climatic conditions.

Due to these factors, maintaining the general water quality of the lake is an extremely complex task. That’s why we have partnered with Griffith University in an attempt to reduce the frequency and duration of algal blooms. Visit the project page to find out about our ongoing management initiatives. Scroll down to read about our other water quality improvement initiatives.

The City only recommends swimming in patrolled beaches, dedicated swimming enclosures and public swimming pools. Miami Aquatic Centre is just a five-minute drive from Lake Hugh Muntz.

Water quality monitoring of the lake and reporting is conducted under the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Guidelines below.

Red Level Alert

Level 1 guideline: ≥10µg/L total microcystins or ≥50,000 cells/mL M. aeruginosa or biovolume equivalent of ≥4mm3/L for the combined total of all cyanobacteria where a known toxin.

Level 2 guideline: ≥10mm3/L for the total biovolume of all cyanobacterial material where known toxins are not present, or cyanobacterial scums are consistently present.

The City will take measures to warn the public that the waterbody is considered to be unsuitable for primary contact recreation.
Primary contact recreation is defined by the NHMRC as “whole-body contact with recreational activities”. Examples include swimming, snorkelling, children’s exploratory activities and wading.

Amber Level

≥5000 to <50,000 cells/mL M. aeruginosa or biovolume equivalent of >0.4 to <4mm3/L for the combined total of all cyanobacteria where a known toxin producer is dominant in the total biovolume or ≥0.4 to <10mm3/L for the combined total of all cyanobacteria where known toxin producers are not present.

The City will investigate the causes of the elevated levels and increase sampling to enable the risks to recreational users to be more accurately assessed.

Green Level

≥500 to <5000 cells/mL M. aeruginosa or biovolume equivalent of >0.04 to <0 4mm3/L for the combined total of all cyanobacteria.

The City will continue routine sampling to measure cyanobacterial levels.

Water quality updates

Want to receive email updates about water quality or other issues concerning Lake Hugh Muntz?

Subscribe so we can stay in touch. Email lakehughmuntz@goldcoast.qld.gov.au to be added to our email list.


About Lake Hugh Muntz

Lake Hugh Muntz was the first lake to be constructed as part of the Robina Masterplan in the early 1980s. It was one of the first urban lakes constructed in Queensland.

Material extracted from the 17-hectare site was used to build up the surrounding area. This helped to provide adequate height and flood protection for the subdivision. As a result, the lake is up to 12 metres deep and the volume of approximately 280 Olympic swimming pools.

Lake Hugh Muntz forms part of the stormwater drainage system. The lake accepts stormwater from 16 pipe outlets. It receives an exchange of water from the nearby canal through a pipe under Barrier Reef Drive during high tides. When the lake was first constructed, it was a freshwater lake, filled through groundwater recharge and stormwater runoff.

During the first decade the lake experienced very low pH due to the groundwater recharge. This low pH prevented the growth of aquatic plants in the lake and it was with the construction of the adjacent canal systems that saline water could flow through the exchange pipe more freely. The new canal system also changed the groundwater in the area from fresh to saline. This intrusion of saline water helped the system become more pH neutral and aquatic life began to flourish.

Periods of drought have caused water salinity levels to fluctuate. This means that the lake can alternate between fresh and brackish (neither saltwater nor freshwater). These changes in salinity can affect aquatic plant growth which is important for water quality.

Griffith University has investigated the use of a one-way valve on the pipe under Barrier Reef Drive. This is to stop the inflow of saltwater from the canal system. They advised this option may be detrimental to overall water quality as it would create a stagnant environment, preferred by blue green algae.Groundwater and water quality monitoring has also proven that tidal canals connect to the lake through groundwater.

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

Past mitigation efforts

We are investigating management options to reduce the frequency and duration of algal blooms in Lake Hugh Muntz. Read more about this on our project page.

The City has undertaken several other water quality improvement initiatives at Lake Hugh Muntz. These include:

  • the installation of 66 gully baskets. These baskets capture 4000 kilograms of organics every year that would otherwise enter the lake. The gully baskets are nets that sit within the stormwater inlets along the kerb side of the roads. They capture leaf litter, soil and other organic materials. City officers maintain these gully baskets at a high frequency. They check and clean them out after rain events.
  • the installation of three floating reed beds as an alternative to wetlands around the stormwater network. The beds are designed to filter out nutrients by using root balls suspended in the water. They have struggled to function effectively within Lake Hugh Muntz.
  • restoration of park areas in high sediment zones to reduce runoff into the lake. This includes the planting of Lomandra gardens.
  • the installation of five groundwater bores around the lake. This is to help gain a better understanding of groundwater effects on salinity levels within the lake.

Learn more about past mitigation projects.

How can I help?

Lake Hugh Muntz is a community asset and we need everyone to do their bit to help improve water quality. When contaminated runoff washes into the lake, these substances break down into a ready supply of nutrients, which stimulates algae growth.

Residents can take these simple steps to improve water quality:

  • be aware about what goes down the drain
  • collect pet waste
  • reconsider use of fertilisers and detergents
  • wash cars and pets on grass instead of driveways.

Blue-green algae

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.

You should exercise caution and avoid contact with water:

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

Read more about blue-green algae.

Lake Hugh Muntz Stakeholder Group

A Lake Hugh Muntz Stakeholder Group was formed in 2018 to exchange information relating to the lake. Membership of the Stakeholder Group consists of representatives from:

  • QLD Triathlon
  • a number of Surf Life Saving clubs
  • Merrimac State High School
  • Gold Coast Catchment Association
  • Healthy Land and Water
  • Griffith University
  • Lake Hugh Muntz Care Group.

Related information

Jump to key information
  • Can I swim at Lake Hugh Muntz?

    Lake Hugh Muntz was not designed as a primary recreation waterbody and cannot guarantee safe water quality at all times. The lake receives stormwater runoff from 16 stormwater pipes and urban runoff. The City does undertake routine water quality monitoring and provides health advice when required.

  • What is Phoslock®?

    Phoslock® is modified bentonite clay that works by binding the nutrients which the algae require to grow. It is used in water bodies that have high concentrations of phosphorus.

    Phoslock® has been used extensively around Australia and the world, having been successfully applied to over 400 water bodies. After rigorous testing by numerous ecological organisations, the product has been certified as safe for humans, animals and the environment.

    Visit Phoslock® to find out more.

  • Is Phoslock® safe?

    Phoslock® has undergone rigorous testing by numerous ecological organisations and is certified as safe for humans, animals and the environment.

    A representative from the company will be present on site every day during the application. They will be located in the secure compound and will have the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment with them.

  • Where has Phoslock® been used in Australia?

    Phoslock Environmental Technologies has successfully implemented their products, including Phoslock®, in the following Australian waterways:

    • Narrows Lakes
    • Emu Lake
    • Torrens Lake
    • the Canning and Vasse Rivers
    • Australian Drinking Water Reservoir located in New South Wales.
  • What will happen if Phoslock® doesn’t work?

    Although the City does hope to see a vast improvement in the interim, there is no guarantee Phoslock® will stop the lake from undergoing another algal bloom. As such, the trial will be used to determine the performance of the product at Lake Hugh Muntz and to better inform options for the long-term lake management.

    We've been working closely with Griffith University who have researched twenty potential management options for the lake. Most of these options require further investigation prior to testing in the lake. In the meantime, we ask that residents consider their own household behaviours such as the use of fertilisers, washing their cars and pets on grass instead of driveways, and correctly disposing of animal droppings. These contribute significantly to the water quality in Lake Hugh Muntz.

  • 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 Phoslock trial undertaken in an attempt to improve water quality High Completed
    5.3 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.

  • 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, water from washing cars and pets, 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 be found on our Stormwater responsible page.

  • 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 Preservation Society of Queensland.

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