The Parramatta River Catchment Group is on a mission to make Parramatta River swimmable by 2025. But we can’t do it alone! A Riverkeeper has been appointed to establish a network of care for the health of the Parramatta River and surrounding catchment.
About the Riverkeeper Network
The Riverkeeper Network includes individuals, community groups and organisations, businesses, projects and things to do along the river and in the catchment.
Keep reading to find out about the network and our plans or you can attend a Riverkeeper Network meeting. If you belong to an organisation we can arrange for a Riverkeeper Ambassador or a member of our team to be a guest speaker at one of your events.
Become a Riverkeeper
Why would my organisation want to join the Riverkeeper Network?
- To be a part of an amazing campaign
- To receive assistance and support for your own projects via:
- assistance in applying for and Riverkeeper endorsement of grant applications
- access to scientific and council expertise
- access to a pool of resources
- expanded opportunities for media/social media coverage of your event/project.
- To plan and execute more ambitious events and projects via:
- connecting with organisations across the catchment
- working with other groups for access to larger, catchment wide grants.
- To have access to other Riverkeeper initiatives (which will be implemented over the coming year) including:
- River Warriors energetic souls, trained through the Riverkeeper network to drive on ground projects.
- River Ambassadorsa group of passionate community speakers.
- River Aware a toolkit for homes, streets and communities.
Won’t this mean more work for me and my group, when I just want to stay local?
The level of involvement you and your group has in the network is entirely up to you. Once you are signed up, you can determine how involved you want to be, for example:
- Be contacted by the Riverkeeper only when there is something happening in your area.
- Signup to the newsletter so that you can pick projects and events that you would like to be part of.
- Use the Riverkeeper network to promote your events and projects.
- Ask the Riverkeeper for assistance in applying for grants and getting projects and events up and running.
The Parramatta River Riverkeeper is funded through the Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, funded by the NSW Government and supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.
There are number of great projects underway in the catchment which you can be involved in. These projects all relate to the Parramatta River and help us with our goal of making the Parramatta River swimmable.
The Riverkeeper successfully applied for funding to kick off a River Aware pilot and is about to start rolling this out.
River Aware is a community project aimed to increase public awareness around their impact on the river and generate demand for water efficiency technology in much the same way energy efficiency has now permeated public awareness and acceptability. River Aware will turn targeted households into river aware streets and create river aware communities through a highly interactive and educational program. The end result will be the conversion of whole communities actively practicing river aware lifestyles.
With the launch of our eco-health report, we have five mascots that we will focus on to help drive projects to improve the ecological health of the river. We will be developing initiatives and citizen science projects to restore the habitat of these mascot animals and hence increase their ability to thrive in the catchment. Two of the mascots, the eastern long necked turtle and the Bar tailed godwit are already receiving attention from our members with the Talkin’ Turtle event and the Canada Bay Dog Saves Birds campaign.
One of our affiliates, the Bundilla Scout Camp has been working with the Riverkeeper on a 10-year plan to restore the riparian zone of the Toongabbie Creek, with two very successful events already undertaken.
Resources and information for the project was supplied by members of the PRCG including City of Parramatta Council, Greater Sydney Landcare Network and the Impeesa Bushcare group.
Other projects currently in the planning stage include a trial oyster bed near the Baludarri Wetlands, and a campaign with affiliates Bass Sydney and Addventagous to install a fish ladder at the Asylum weir, opening up 19 km of habitat upstream to migratory water species.
There are also a number of Citizen Science projects that you can participate in.
River Aware Communities – Pilot Scheme
Riverkeeper Network Background
The Riverkeeper Network sits within the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) and was conceived and established by Local Landcare Co-ordinator (funded by the Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative. The overarching mission of the PRCG is to restore the health of the Parramatta River. The aim of the Riverkeeper Network is to establish an Urban Landcare Program that supports existing and new volunteers in undertaking activities that reduce pollution and enhance aquatic biodiversity.
‘The Riverkeeper’ establishes a river care network of individuals, organisations and community groups that expands the capacity of the PRCG, builds support, ownership and engagement for Our Living River, and provides capacity for operational delivery. It is designed to be an overarching umbrella of a number of different programs, which address multiple needs.
Both Sydney Water and Australian Museum have indicated support for this pilot program.
The River Aware program is one of the five key programs under the Riverkeeper umbrella.
River Aware Program
River Aware incorporates ‘our asks’ and is ‘the whys and the hows’, what is it that we need people to know/do to improve the health of the River. Increasing the public awareness and desire for water quality improvement technology in much the same way energy efficiency has now permeated public awareness and acceptability. It is collation and badging of information sheets. It a list of things we want people to know and do, or not do.
River aware households – river aware streets – river aware communities.
- Are you River Aware?
- What is your connection to the river?
- What are your impacts of the river?
- Understanding your connection to the River?
- What impacts on the river:
- In your home
- In your street
- In your community
- In your business (Organisation/Institution)
The River Aware Communities pilot scheme is a scientifically designed proof of concept and involves both on-ground actions and community engagement. The intention of the pilot scheme is to scientifically test if actions by members of the community can impact the health of the river.
Six areas within the Parramatta River Catchment will be selected that meet several of the following criteria:
- Contains a waterway that connects to the Parramatta River
- Contains a stormwater outlet
- Contains a school, active community group or existing member of the Riverkeeper Network
- is at the upper end of the waterway.
- Is in a local council area that is actively involved in the PRCG
- Train eager community members to use a toolkit to quantify health of their local waterway.
River Aware Community Program
We currently know what actions people can take within their own homes to improve the health of the river, but the level of awareness and commitment is considered low. The level of awareness of connectivity to the river and of the impact of individual actions will be collected in a pre-campaign survey.
Funding is required to:
- Develop the list of actions into effective campaign material by creating a range of research based multipurpose infographics.
- Design and implement River Aware website components
- Conduct snapshots and surveys in each area.
- Host a community meeting in each area to kick off each campaign and recruit Riverkeeper volunteers in each area.
- Co-ordinate and resource street level meetings in each area.
- host a community event in each area at the end of the campaign to celebrate achievement.
- Riverkeeper volunteers distribute a flyer advertising upcoming campaign to visit each house in the street to talk about becoming a River Aware household.
- Each street has a blitz day where each house is doorknocked, people asked to commit to becoming a River Aware household and given a River Aware pack.
- The area is also blitzed with drain stencils.
- Once 80% of each street has committed, street is recognised as a River Aware Street and signage erected.
- Once 80% of streets in each area are committed then River Aware Community status is achieved and area is blitzed with park stencils, stormwater stencils, overflow stencils etc.
Riverkeeper Ambassadors are community members who are passionate about the Parramatta River or a particular aspect of it. To achieve our goal of making the Parramatta River swimmable, we need to connect with each of the one million residents and businesses in the catchment. To do this I need a team of passionate, enthusiastic, articulate and committed volunteers to help me!
Would you like to publicly share your passion for the ecology or history and/or be part of the team that is going to make the Parramatta River swimmable?
We currently have three amazing Ambassadors:
Cathy Merchant ‘Turtle Ambassador’, who organised an amazing ‘Talkin’ Turtle’ event based around the Eastern Long Necked Turtle, one of our five mascot species for the River, and is in the process of organising some eel talks for this year.
Paula Coleman, our ‘Vineyard Creek’ ambassador has taken on an unloved patch of hidden beauty and organises regular clean up days for volunteers and corporate groups.
Charlene Bordley, from Addvantageous (a cycling based social enterprise) organises Fish Ladder bike tours, a tour along the Parramatta River looking at the four obstacles in the way of estuarine fish passage. Along the way birds are identified, environmental concerns are logged with council and participants learn about the role of the 5 Parramatta River Catchment Mascots in helping up make Parramatta River swimmable.