We believe that every Australian should have access to natural places to swim and enjoy other recreational activities. For the millions of people who live or work near its foreshore, this natural place is the Parramatta River.
The Aboriginal peoples of the area lived in harmony with the environment and cared for the land and waterways for tens of thousands of years.
Following the start of British colonisation, the introduction of agriculture, industry and urban development contributed to the pollution of the river, gradually degrading water quality and the river’s appeal as a recreational destination.
Over the last 20 years, significant efforts have been made to improve the health of the river through advancements in regulation, technology and community awareness.
Together, we can revitalise the Parramatta River and make it a clean and safe place for everyone to enjoy.
1910 Lifesaving Festival at Little Coogee, on the Parramatta River in Parramatta Park.
Our Living River initiative
In 2014, we launched the Our Living River initiative with a new vision, purpose and mission:
Our Vision – We believe Sydney deserves a world class river
Our Purpose – To make Parramatta River a living river
Our Mission – To make Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.
Other global cities, such as New York and London, have also taken the plunge and set similar goals for their cities. Copenhagen and Boston have already achieved it and proven that major urban rivers can be made swimmable and can become the essence of urban life again.
Parramatta River Masterplan
In October 2018, the PRCG released DUBA, BUDU, BARRA: Ten Steps to a Living River – the Parramatta River Masterplan. The Masterplan details the steps required to make the Parramatta River swimmable by 2025.
Benefits of a swimmable river
A swimmable river is about more than just swimming. It is a clean and healthy river, with vibrant and active spaces that everyone can easily get to and enjoy in different ways.
A healthy river supports and enhances life in many ways. It makes the area more liveable by introducing greater biodiversity, better air quality and access to activities such as swimming, picnicking, walking, cycling or just relaxing.
Australians are attracted to water. Being around a river they can swim in or a creek they can relax by creates a great social and recreational attraction for both locals and tourists. A swimmable river will foster community connection by facilitating fun, safe places throughout the river’s catchment for people to meet.
A living river is one that is rich in biodiversity, where people, fish and other animals can thrive together. It is a place where healthy vegetation and fauna flourish, and people benefit physically and mentally from being close to nature. While increased urbanisation has irrevocably changed the landscape, increasing the habitats for more species in public open spaces helps create corridors between larger biodiverse areas in our catchment. This approach helps to improve water quality for swimming by increasing infiltration and slowing down water entering the river system.
Better public amenities
As the Parramatta River is improved to allow for more human activities, many places along its banks will be developed so residents and tourists can enjoy the benefits. We are looking to design and implement more connected green space, walk and cycleways that improves access for everyone.
Living near a swimmable waterway or healthy creek promotes healthy living. This is not just because of the obvious health benefits of swimming or walking, but also because the area becomes more activated with children’s play areas, walking paths, cycleways, major events and other recreational activities.
As the area becomes busier, business opportunities will increase. Restaurants and venues will have the opportunity to invest in waterfront locations or benefit from improved access to the river and capitalise on the benefits of a living river.
Increased property value
Living in close proximity to clean, swimmable water or green spaces with tree canopy or wetlands is highly sought after and greatly increases property prices. A swimmable Parramatta River and cleaner creeks will attract property investors, promote redevelopment and help increase the desirability of living in all suburbs near the river and its tributaries.