To launch our Hey Tosser Education and Enforcement campaign the EPA has dropped 40 GPS tracked plastic bottles into harbours, rivers and lakes across NSW to demonstrate how litter can travel once it reaches our waterways. Read more...

EPA and councils ‘Get the Site Right’ at Parramatta River compliance blitz


On Tuesday 18 October, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and eight local councils joined forces for a joint compliance blitz on soil erosion and sediment control at construction sites around the Parramatta River.

The blitz was part of the Parramatta River Catchment Group’s ‘Get the Site Right’ initiative, which highlights the role that developers and builders play an important role in keeping the river clean and helping to make it swimmable again by 2025.

A total of 156 sites were inspected across the Parramatta River catchment, including areas within The Hills Shire, Blacktown, Parramatta, Cumberland, Ryde, Hunters Hill, Canada Bay and Burwood Council areas.

Nearly half (47%) of sites inspected were not being managed adequately. Offences ranged from no controls in place at all and unprotected dirt stockpiles in locations where they could be washed away, to minor offences such as ruptured sediment bags and inadequate sweeping of roads and driveways.

Read the full media release here


Throughout October the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and local councils within the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) are conducting a soil and erosion control compliance blitz at construction sites around Parramatta River.

The ‘Get the Site Right’ initiative is part of the PRCG’s mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025, and highlights the role that developers and builders play in cleaning up the river. 

EPA Director of Metropolitan Branch Ms Giselle Howard said that sediment and erosion from construction sites poses a major threat to the river and environment, if not properly managed.

“With the rapid construction and development taking place around Parramatta River, sediment can run off building sites into stormwater drains and straight into the Parramatta River,” Ms Howard said.

Read the full media release here


Federal Government pledges $76 M to restore Canberra’s lakes but booming Western Sydney left in need

The Commonwealth announced on Thursday a $76 M commitment to clean up Canberra’s waterways, with an additional $8.5 M pledged by the ACT Government. The funding will see Lake Burley Griffin, Lake Tuggeranong, Lake Ginninderra and the 300,000 plus residents in the surrounding areas benefit from a combined investment of almost $85 M.

The announcement comes at the same time the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) has begun its campaign for $19 M of Federal Government funding to restore the Parramatta River and turn it into a waterway that can be enjoyed recreationally. In comparison, the $19 M request will benefit over 750,000 Western Sydney residents and three quarters of Sydney’s population that work and play through the Parramatta River catchment area.

“The Parramatta River is at the heart of Western Sydney,” says Clr Jerome Laxale, Chair of the Parramatta River Catchment Group. “For the last three decades, major government investment has gone into cleaning up Sydney’s beaches.Now is the time to turn this investment towards Western Sydney and give our residents a world class river to be proud of.”

The funding will allow the roll out of a strategic plan to improve water quality in the Parramatta River and make it safe for public swimming. With the local population predicted to expand rapidly over coming years, the availability of nearby natural swimming locations and accessible recreational areas is vital.

Read the full media release here

Federal government funding needed to make the parramatta river swimmable for all western sydney residents

MEDIA RELEASE 19 MAY 2016: The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) has commenced a campaign for Federal Government support to be able to implement the necessary actions to make the Parramatta River swimmable again, seeking an initial funding commitment of $19 M over 5 years.

The Strategic Plan drives the delivery of the Parramatta River Masterplan; the blue print for how the river will be made swimmable again by 2025. It centres around the selection of key pilot sites as voted for by the public and the feasibility of making these sites swimmable. Preliminary work on the Masterplan has been made possible through financial support from Sydney Water and all PRCG members and partners.

Read the full Media Release



Friday 19 February 2016: The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) formalised a strategic partnership with the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG), joining in the Our Living River initiative to make the Parramatta River swimmable by 2025.

“We share the same goal; to maintain clean, unpolluted waterways. The EPA looks forward to helping develop compliance, monitoring and reporting systems that improve the Parramatta River’s water quality,” said NSW EPA CEO, Mr Barry Buffier.

PRCG Chair and Mayor of Ryde, Councillor Jerome Laxale, welcomed the EPA’s membership.

“The Parramatta River Catchment Group has made great progress in the last year, and we are delighted to have the EPA on board as a member,” Councillor Laxale said.

A Statement of Joint Intent was signed yesterday to pursue and develop the following general forms of cooperation for the benefit of both parties:

  • The provision of technical advice and interpretation of monitoring data;
  • Contribution of technical expertise in relation to monitoring, development of baseline data and reporting requirements;
  • The development of measurable baseline and reporting characteristics to provide a high level of confidence that the ultimate goal of “swimmability” for the Parramatta River has been achieved;
  • Work collaboratively on reducing the litter load on the Parramatta River using joint regulatory and education campaigns and disseminating information about the progress and achievements of the Our Living River campaign to the community;
  • Work collaboratively on reducing pollutant loads from licenced and unlicensed facilities on the Parramatta River, including from sewage overflows, using joint regulatory and education campaigns;
  • The provision of technical and historic advice on contaminated sites issues along the Parramatta River foreshore to inform the appropriate selection of healthy swimming sites and access points;

Read the full Media Release here




One year into the Our Living River initiative to bring swimming back to the Parramatta River (the river) by 2025, the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) has released its first 12 month progress report.

Newly elected PRCG Chairman City of Ryde Mayor Clr Jerome Laxale welcomed the report: “I’m pleased that we’ve made some serious progress on the way to achieving our goal of swimming in the Parramatta River again.

“I, like many others, was captivated by the notion of being able to swim in this river again. I live around 2km from Meadowbank, and I cannot wait to take my kids down there in 10 years’ time.”

“Community involvement is paying off already! This year we saw a pod of eight dolphins seen swimming as far west as Silverwater Bridge – the first dolphin sighting in a long, long time,” he said.

The Our Living River initiative is spearheaded by 16 local councils and state government agencies and community groups within the catchment area.

With the necessary partnerships and support in place, the group has now taken steps to establishing a Riverwatch monitoring program and developing a river master plan, to look at all issues related to restoring the river to full health and activation. Through this they are setting a range of achievable targets to bring currently unusable parts of the river and surrounding creeks back to life.

“After decades of neglect, we are now bringing our river and surrounding creeks back to their former glory. This will have tangible social and economic benefits to the two million residents who surround the area,” Clr Laxale said.

“This year is crucial. We’ll be asking communities who live around the river to help shape what they want for the river, and how we make it swimmable again.”

Currently, the river west of Cabarita is un-swimmable, with the exception of Lake Parramatta (*).

Highlights of the report include:

  • Lake Parramatta (*) opened for swimming for the first time in 72 years – the Lake is currently voted as the most popular place where people want to swim.

  • More than 4,000 votes lodged online for where people want to swim on the river. To have your say and vote, go to ourlivingriver.com.au

  • Sightings of dolphins, seals and penguins swimming in the river.

  • Our Living Catchment Fauna and Habitat Report launched highlighting the richness and diversity of animals that exist in natural banks and bushland surrounding the Parramatta River.

  • Commitment shown from all-levels of government and the community to look at issues related to restoring the river to full health and activation.

  • The Environment Protection Authority and The Hills Shire Council join as new members, completing the partnership needed to achieve the mission.

  • Commitment from the Minister for Environment to support developing a Riverwatch monitoring program for the river.

  • Macquarie University report launched, investigating five issues that impacts on the mission to make the river swimmable again.

  • High profile ambassadors for Our Living River announced, including the Wests Tigers, academics from four Sydney Universities, State and local MPs and Councillors.

  • Advocating for a replacement of the RiverCat ferries with a new, low wake design to reduce the impacts on future swimming.

To celebrate their first anniversary, members of the PRCG came together at Meadowbank Baths, one of the historic swimming locations to re-create a picture of the past. 

(*) Parramatta Lake is safe to swim in only when lifeguards are on patrol and in patrolled areas, to ensure swimmer safety.