Inspection blitz aims to bring wildlife and swimmers back to Sydney's waterways

The fourth Get the Site Right compliance and education campaign was held during May. The month-long campaign targets erosion and sediment control on commercial and residential building sites across Sydney and the Central Coast. It also aims to raise awareness about the effects of sediment laden run-off on our waterways, and improve water quality to bring wildlife and swimmers back to the city’s harbours and rivers.

On Wednesday, 16 May, NSW EPA, Department of Planning & Environment and councils took part in a one-day blitz, where dozens of compliance officers were out in force, targeting repeat offenders and issuing fines where appropriate.

Results from the November 2017 campaign showed a steady improvement in compliance rates from the previous campaign held last May.

NSW EPA Regional Director Metropolitan Giselle Howard said sediment run-off was an often-overlooked issue that could have significant impacts on the environment.

“Everyone in Sydney wants to see our waterways return to a condition where aquatic life can thrive and residents can swim,” Ms Howard said.

“Sediment laden run-off might seem like a small problem limited to gutters and stormwater drains, but when that runoff hits our waterways it not only affects the water quality and amenity, but it smothers aquatic vegetation, clogs fish gills, and can even block waterways entirely during storms and floods.

“While Get the Site Right is a targeted compliance blitz that will include the issuing of fines, what we’re focused on is prevention as the cure: we want developers and builders to stop the sediment leaving their site boundaries in the first place by putting the appropriate erosion and sediment controls in place.”

PRCG Chair Mark Drury said with Sydney’s growing population there is a rapidly increasing demand for clean, local rivers and creeks. “In a community survey conducted by the PRCG in 2016, 54 per cent of respondents said they would prefer to swim in the Parramatta River if it was safe to do so,” Clr Drury said.

“With a growing population there is always going to be associated growth in construction, and Get the Site Right is an important part of our ongoing strategy to manage the environmental impacts of that construction and achieve our mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.”

Results from the May campaign will be published in the next issue.

Members of the public can report pollution incidents, including poor sediment control, to the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555. More information on erosion and sediment control is available at: www.ourlivingriver.com.au/getthesiteright


Parramatta River Catchment Group congratulates City of Canada Bay Council on their progress in making Parramatta River swimmable again

The group behind the Our Living River campaign and mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again has today congratulated City of Canada Bay for taking the next steps towards river activation at Brays Bay.

“This is exciting progress for Our Living River,” said Clr Mark Drury, Chair of the Parramatta River Catchment Group.

“Last week a playful seal was spotted splashing around on the river near Chiswick. Now City of Canada Bay Council has given its seal of approval to take river activation to the next steps at Brays Bay.”

City of Canada Bay is an active member of the Parramatta River Catchment Group, an alliance of councils, state government agencies and community groups who are together working to improve the Parramatta River and the creeks that flow into it.

On Tuesday night, City of Canada Bay passed a motion at their Council meeting to nominate the River Activation of Brays Bay as their priority project for submission to the state government’s Precinct Support Scheme.

The Council is seeking over $6.5 million in funding from the Department of Environment and Heritage for the design and construction of a water recreation precinct at Brays Bay in Rhodes.

The proposed River Activation includes upgrades to the adjacent foreshore, construction of a jetty or water-sport launch facilities (such as a pontoon) and investigations to determine whether Brays Bay is an appropriate swimming location on the Parramatta River.

“This opportunity is a real coup for our residents,” City of Canada Bay Mayor Tsirekas said. “The funding would allow us to transform Brays Bay into an active river site, providing locals with a landscaped foreshore where they can go for a paddle on a hot day without having to trek east to other beaches.”

“As efforts to improve water quality in the Parramatta River pay off, we can now look at natural riverfront areas as viable options for passive and active recreation for our community,” Mayor Tsirekas said.

The City of Canada Bay has implemented a raft of measures to improve river water quality, including working in partnership with all other Councils and the NSW EPA on the recent ‘Get the Site Right’ compliance blitz on construction sites to prevent pollution entering local waterways.

The Council also manages gross pollutant traps around our foreshore, operates street sweepers to keep our streets, gutters and parks clean, supports local volunteer clean-up groups and runs anti-litter educational and advertising campaigns to stop litter ending up in our bays.

Brays Bay is one of 12 potential swimming sites along the Parramatta River that have been under investigation for future swimming as part of the Parramatta River Masterplan.

There are already four natural swimming sites along the Parramatta River open for public swimming, including Chiswick Baths and Cabarita Beach in the City of Canada Bay, which are routinely monitored and reported to the public.

Sydney Water, another member of the alliance, has recently supported an in-depth water quality modelling study along the river to understand where natural swimming could be possible by 2025.

“Our recent modelling shows that it is possible that more swim sites in the lower parts of the river could be opened for natural swimming by 2025, including Brays Bay,” Clr Drury said.

“This will require additional planning controls for stormwater management, wastewater infrastructure and community education.”

The Parramatta River Masterplan to be launched later this year will provide the pathways for how the river will be made swimmable again by 2025. The Masterplan has been supported by all PRCG partners, with major funding support from Sydney Water and the NSW Environment Protection Authority.