Step 2. Keep watch

Overview

A Riverwatch water monitoring program will help us measure change over time, protect existing swimming spots, open new swimming sites and understand what makes water quality change over time.

The Riverwatch Program is assessing the microbial and chemical contaminants in the water and sediment at each of the four highest priority proposed swimming sites. The combined monitoring will inform whether proposed swimming sites can be activated for recreation, what types of activities will be possible (eg swimming, boating) and the conditions under which this can occur.

Recommendation

Agree and progress the establishment of the Riverwatch monitoring program for the Parramatta River.

Timeframe

Now.

Lead Agency

Sydney Water.

Current Measure

Number of swim sites being monitored – existing, priority, future swim sites.

Status Swimming Site Manager Water Quality Monitoring Results of monitoring
Existing Cabarita Park beach City of Canada Bay Beachwatch Grading Good*
Existing Chiswick Baths City of Canada Bay Beachwatch Grading Good*
Existing Dawn Fraser Baths Inner West Council Beachwatch Grading Good*
Existing Parramatta Lake Parramatta Council Parramatta Council Advisory
Priority for activation Bayview Park City of Canada Bay Sydney Water TBA – Not enough data collected to determine suitability.
View Bayview Park Water Quality Results.
Priority for activation McIlwaine Park City of Canada Bay Sydney Water TBA – Not enough data collected to determine suitability.
View McIlwaine Park Water Quality Results.
Priority for activation Putney Park City of Ryde Sydney Water TBA – Not enough data collected to determine suitability.
View Putney Park Water Quality Results.
Future site Callan Park Inner West Council Beachwatch TBA – Not enough data collected to determine suitability.

*TBA – To be advised. Not enough water quality data has been collected (before April 2020) and assessed in conjunction with sanitary inspections to develop a suitability grade. Raw data for each of these sites is available on request.

Beachwatch publishes an annual NSW State of the Beaches Report. This report rates each monitored location from Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor and Very Poor. All three existing sites monitored by Beachwatch are rated good and this has not changed in recent years. They define good as ‘Location has generally good microbial water quality and water is considered suitable for swimming most of the time. Swimming should be avoided during and for up to one day following heavy rain at ocean beaches and up to three days at estuarine sites’.

Status Update

Assessing recreational water quality in the Parramatta River is an important step in delivering the Parramatta River Masterplan. The Riverwatch microbial monitoring program assesses how microbial contaminants impact water quality in the Parramatta River. Along with the Riverwatch chemical assessment program, it helps inform decisions about proposed swimming sites along the river.

Microbial monitoring Sanitary (site) inspection Chemical assessment Site safety risk assessment
Putney Park In Progress In Progress Not started Not started
McIlwaine Park In Progress In Progress Not started Not started
Bayview Park In Progress In Progress Not started Not started
Callan Park (additional site) In Progress In Progress In Progress Not started

 

Microbial Monitoring Program

The microbial monitoring program follows the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Waters. It is aligned with similar recreational water quality monitoring programs such as Beachwatch, to maintain a consistent approach across Sydney.

We undertake routine, regular monitoring of the sites and also targeted sampling, for example, after rainfall, to determine the individual site’s recovery time. We measure a number of parameters but, most importantly for swimming, we are looking at enterococci.  These bacteria are excreted in faeces and are rarely present in unpolluted waters. Enterococci have shown a clear dose-response relationship to disease in humans.

Download the Riverwatch Microbial Monitoring Program fact sheet.

 

Chemical Assessment Program

The Riverwatch chemical assessment program evaluates how chemical contaminants impact river sediment and water quality in the Parramatta River. The University of New South Wales is working with experts at Sydney Water, NSW Health, the Environment Protection Authority, Department of Planning Industry & Environment and councils to develop the chemical assessment program. The team is applying enHealth’s Environmental Health Risk Assessment: Guidelines for assessing human health risks from environmental hazards to identify chemical contaminants of concern, understand toxicity and develop an exposure assessment for recreational water activities. This information will advise the sampling program and help us to understand any potential risks that may arise from future recreation activities along the River.

Previous sediment and water quality monitoring within the river and a review of historic land uses near proposed swimming sites helps us to identify potential chemical contaminants of concern for recreational water users. These include heavy metals, dioxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), surfactants and pesticides.

Download the Riverwatch Chemical Microbial Monitoring Program fact sheet.

 

Conceptual Model

The Parramatta River Conceptual Model is a simplified representation of the real world which captures and integrates relevant scientific and other knowledge into a visual form to simplify communication between a variety of people. The conceptual model is divided into dry weather and wet weather that are the two dominant states which affect water quality in the Parramatta River. The round, break-out images relate to the main picture and highlight the key areas that affect water quality and swimmability in the Parramatta River.

View the Parramatta River Conceptual Models.

 

Progress Timeline

January – March 2020

  • Completed target microbial monitoring program (regular monitoring ongoing) at the three sites.
  • Established MOU with UNSW to develop predictive model and commenced analysis of water quality data.
  • Commenced work with Digital Business within Sydney Water to build stage one of the website.
October 2019 – December 2019

  • Water quality monitoring for microbial contaminants (i.e. enterococci) is continuing for Putney Park, McIlwaine Park and Bayview Park (new swimming sites). So far water quality is good during dry weather and recovery after rain is between 2-3 days depending on rainfall.
  • UNSW provided results from chemical analysis of water and sediments at Callan Park. These will be reviewed by NSW health, EPA, OEH and Inner West Council.
  • UNSW is developing a proposal to undertake the chemical analysis for the three new swim sites following a similar process at Callan Park.
  • Develop an external facing website to clearly communicate the Riverwatch program and progress towards swimming in the River.
July 2019 – September 2019

  • Pictorial conceptual model has been completed for Parramatta River to illustrate the current understanding of contaminants and exposure pathways in the Parramatta River (to be presented at meeting).
  • Water quality monitoring for microbial contaminants (i.e. enterococci) has commenced for Putney Park, McIlwaine Park and Bayview Park (new swimming sites).
  • Riverwatch program fact sheets developed.
  • UNSW analysing results from chemical analysis of water and sediments at Callan Park.
April 2019 – June 2019

  • Beachwatch monitoring is ongoing at Callan Park.
  • Sanitary inspection of Callan Park completed.
  • Chemical analysis of water and sediments at Callan Park has commenced.
  • Pictorial conceptual model being prepared for Parramatta River to illustrate the current understanding of contaminants and exposure pathways in the Parramatta River.
  • Water quality monitoring plan under development for Putney Park, McIlwaine Park and Bayview Park (new swimming sites).

Useful Links

Beachwatch