ON A still winter's day the calm waters of Wollumboola Lake contrast sharply with the cacophony on its sandy shores.
The sounds of thousands of waterbirds feeding is ever present at the shallow, saline, coastal lagoon, which hosts native species and migratory birds, including 10 threatened species.
The lake, which occasionally opens to the sea across a thin sand bar, supports abundant growth of sea grass and algae, and is currently home to several thousand black swans and grey and chestnut teals.
Wollumboola is listed as a wetland of national importance, and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is investigating its nomination as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
But defenders of Wollumboola are worried about a proposal for an 18-hole golf course on the lake's north-western shore lodged with Shoalhaven City Council by the developer Allen, Price and Associates on behalf of the landowner, Warren Halloran.
A development application for the course lodged with the council on June 30 has attracted more than 60 submissions, nearly three-quarters opposed.
The president of the Lake Wollumboola Protection Association, Frances Bray, said one of the biggest dangers from a golf course would be increased runoff of organic material and fertilisers.
It is feared that algal blooms could choke the lake, killing the fish, crustaceans and seagrass that can attract up to 20,000 birds during drought.
''It's just the most beautiful serene place and to think that that could be degraded for a golf course is an absolute tragedy,'' Ms Bray said.
A water management plan submitted with the development application proposed the construction of wetlands to treat stormwater runoff from the site, but the plan acknowledged that not all of the fairway areas would be covered.
The Greens councillor Amanda Findley, said the proposal was a last-minute attempt to develop land set down to become conservation land under proposed new land zoning.
But the proposed golf course has garnered some support from nearby Culburra Beach for employment opportunities and increased tourism.
The council will hold a public meeting would on Monday.
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