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Parramatta River Bank Naturalisation and Priority Corridors Project (2023-2026)

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A major goal of the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is to improve ecosystem health in the catchment.  One of the main strategies is to protect and enhance riparian vegetation. This delivers habitat benefits for several iconic species.

The vision aims to:

  • Naturalise where possible
  • Enhance the viability, condition, connectivity, and extent of nature riparian vegetation
  • Provide a corridor for the movement of flora and fauna species between reserves and areas of remnant vegetation
  • Protect and/or provide bank and creekbed stability
  • Contribute to improved water quality.

Project objectives and scope

In June 2023, the PRCG received a grant for $1,000,000 over three years as part of the NSW Government Election Commitment to undertake a Parramatta River Bank Naturalisation and Priority Corridors project.

The objectives of the grant are to:

  1. Develop strategic policy to protect and enhance existing riparian vegetation
  2. Identify priority sites within the PRCG catchment for riverbank revegetation
  3. Deliver initial implementation (on-ground works).

The project will fund specialists or consultancies to deliver the following:

Stage One
  • Conduct a literature review, drawing on council and agency existing data sets.
  • Undertake catchment mapping. 
  • Conduct workshops with councils, agency members and Sydney Water to establish and publish priority corridors for restoration across the catchment.
  • Develop riparian planning controls/LEP clause for member councils.
Stage Two
  •  Design a capital works program with concept and detailed designs for specific projects, prepare cost estimates, and coordinate approvals for capital works project.
Stage Three
  • Undertake capital works at priority sites (identifying any opportunity for co-funding by landowners and other grants).

The geographic scope of this project is the Parramatta River catchment riparian areas within our 10-member council Local Government Areas. The works are for creeks and streams including Duck River and its tributaries as well as all other streams in the catchment. It excludes the river bank of Parramatta River from Charles Street Weir to Cockatoo Island.

Implementation of the Parramatta River Masterplan

Launched in 2018, Duba, Budu, Barra – Ten Steps to a Living River: The Parramatta River Masterplan was the result of extensive consultation and represents the views of PRCG members and the community. The Parramatta River Bank Naturalisation and Priority Corridors project will assist implementation two key Masterplan steps:

  • Step 4: Standardise and Standards (see page 70) – Establish a whole-of-catchment land-use policy and statutory planning mechanism.
  • Step 8: Bring in Nature (see page 78) – Maintain, improve, and create new habitats for the Parramatta River catchment’s five iconic species mascots as indicators of water quality and catchment health.

Progress to date

2023 The Project Working Group, consisting of representatives from member councils and Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA), has been established and reports to the PRCG Executive and the Full Group. It is supported by the PRCG Coordinator and Riverkeeper. The Working Group meets regularly.
2024 Consultant appointed to undertake Stage 1 project on literature review, mapping, development of prioritisation framework and identification of the list of priorities.

Funded by:
NSW Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water

$1,000,000 over three years from July 2023 to June 2026.

More information:
Jasmine Payget, Riverkeeper, Parramatta River Catchment Group.



Stormwater Compliance and Education Program (2023-2026)

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A key focus of the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is to reduce stormwater runoff to improve water quality and habitat health in the catchment.

Project objectives and scope

In June 2023, the PRCG received a grant for $800,000 over four years as part of the NSW Government Election Commitment to develop a Stormwater Compliance and Education Program.

The objectives of the grant are to develop and deliver stormwater related activities, including, but not limited to:

  • Work with building industry bodies, strata managers, and homeowners to increase education in the operation and maintenance of private stormwater infrastructure to ensure they comply with legal requirements and positive covenants.
  • Coordinate standard methods for collecting and reporting data for stormwater management of pollution control devices, erosion and sediment compliance, and litter prevention activities across the catchment.
  • Work with our member Councils and the PRCG Stormwater Subcommittee to establish an education and auditing program of privately-owned stormwater pollution control devices, such as wetlands, bioretention systems, on-site stormwater detention devices, and gross pollutant traps.
  • Build the shared knowledge outcomes and capacity of member Councils to deliver their own stormwater education, policy, management and compliance programs.
  • Expand the reach and engagement of the successful Get the Site Right education and compliance campaign with more than 20 councils across Greater Sydney and parts of NSW, the Cooks River Alliance, Georges Riverkeeper, Sydney Coastal Councils, WaterNSW and our partners, the NSW Environmental Protection Authority and Department of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure.
  • Build on the work completed to date through the EPA grant-funded Greater Sydney Litter Prevention Strategy (GSHLPS) in partnership with Sydney Coastal Councils Group.
  • Develop innovative, cost-effective, and high-impact methods to maintain the involvement of a diverse range of groups and people within the Parramatta River, focusing on litter and stormwater pollution prevention.

The PRCG Stormwater Compliance and Education Program is actively encouraging a proactive approach towards managing stormwater assets, encouraging ongoing education and maintenance instead of a ‘set and forget’ mindset.

Implementation of the Parramatta River Masterplan

Launched in 2018, Duba, Budu, Barra – Ten Steps to a Living River: The Parramatta River Masterplan was the result of extensive consultation and represents the views of PRCG members and the community. The Stormwater Compliance and Education program will assist implementation two key Masterplan steps:

  • Step 5: Reduce Stormwater Runoff (see page 72) – Adopt a regional approach to the installation, maintenance and reporting of stormwater and water sensitive urban design (WSUD) infrastructure.
  • Step 7: Involve the Community (see page 76) – Undertake joint community education and compliance activities focused on reducing stormwater and source pollution where it is linked to community behaviour and actions.

Progress to date

2023 Employment of a temporary Stormwater Compliance and Education Officer.
2024  Project Plan, Survey sent to Council Officers to assess Stormwater Needs and Opportunities.

Funded by:
NSW Government Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water

$800,000 over four years from July 2023 to June 2026.

More information:
Angela Dunnett, Stormwater Compliance and Education Officer.


An integrated approach to improving stormwater management throughout the Parramatta River catchment

The Issue
Stormwater management devices, such as gross pollutant traps (GPTs), on-site stormwater detention (OSD) tanks and raingardens, play an important role in protecting our waterways from pollution and flooding.

In 2022 an audit conducted by Wave Consulting of 50 private properties across the Parramatta River catchment was undertaken to understand the condition and maintenance cycles of stormwater devices installed on privately owned and managed properties in the last 5-10 years.

Results of the 2022 Stormwater Devices Audit

  • 14% of assets no longer existed or were never built
  • 87% of assets had never been maintained
  • 73% of owners didn’t know they owned the asset or what it was for
  • 8% of assets had completely failed
  • Only 3 of 50 property owners were able to estimate the cost of maintenance












Types of water quality improvement assets:

  • GPTS
  • Bioretention harvesting
  • Litter booms
  • Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) elements in streetscapes













Types of private water quality improvement assets:

  • GPTS
  • Litter baskets
  • Rainwater tanks
  • Bioretention systems












The results of these inspections reveal that WSUD and OSD assets are working, but often ignored or not maintained. They are in general in average condition and without a maintenance plan and budget may in the long term be a risk to the overall health of the river. These assets are providing some benefit to properties and lives from a flood management perspective, but this could be greatly improved with maintenance (Wave, 2022).


Broaden education of stormwater infrastructure and management
Increase the understanding and knowledge of stakeholders responsible for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of stormwater infrastructure, including developers, home builders, body corporates, council representatives, executive staff, planners and compliance officers.

Positive Covenants
Standardise Development Control Plans and enforce the maintenance of systems using ‘positive covenants’ to assist with compliance activities.

A positive covenant may be imposed requiring the maintenance and/or repair of private stormwater assets and applied to the property owner. Councils provide guidelines for the covenants, which are lodged with NSW Land Registry Services under the Conveyancing Act 1919.  It assumes all property owners have the capacity to undertake and pay for maintenance and keep records of completed work.

Explore other options
Enhance stormwater management by transitioning to above-ground options for stormwater assets. Implement policy changes that mandate the installation of stormwater assets in public spaces, financed through stormwater contributions, or offer incentives to encourage their adoption.

Designing with Country

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The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is privileged to be working on a Designing with Country project for the Parramatta River catchment, in collaboration with Aboriginal landscape designer Yerrabingin, local Councils, Sydney Water and community members.

The project aims to develop a design framework for the Parramatta River catchment, which will assist councils with creating public cultural works that offer the community more meaningful ways to connect with and care for Country.

The framework will specify standards around the use of language, art, landscaping and other elements. It will also identify locations for future projects that may include murals, sculptures, tree plantings, gardens and heritage trails.

To support the project a research study of the Aboriginal history and culture of the Parramatta River catchment has been undertaken. A key part of the study is a collection of oral histories generously shared by Aboriginal people from the region. Their personal stories and reflections will contribute significantly to building a better understanding of First Nations people. The research study will be made available to local councils, libraries, schools and the wider community.

The Designing with Country project is funded through a grant under the Metropolitan Greenspace Program, which supports councils to deliver projects that improve regional open space and community liveability as part of the NSW Government’s vision for a ‘Green Grid’ across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast.

For more information, contact the PRCG Coordinator, Nell Graham, on 9121 0009 or at:


Walk on Country and Design Jam

To support the Designing with Country project, a Walk on Country was held in both the lower and upper Parramatta River catchment. Representatives from our member councils and other agencies and the community visited various sites along the Parramatta River and Duck River foreshore, Lake Parramatta and Blacktown Creek.

Yerrabingin facilitated two ‘Design Jams’ that enabled participants to share their ideas on new ways to experience the catchment’s waterways. The ideas from both workshops will contribute to the development of the design framework. Many thanks to everyone who came along to support these worthwhile events.

Watch a video about the Designing with Country project.


Image above: Parramatta Riverside Walk mural created by Ngemba artist Jamie Eastwood in 2000.


Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program

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The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) and Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) have partnered to develop a Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program (GSHCMP). The program aims to establish a long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment, to mitigate the potential adverse impacts of population growth, climate change (including sea-level rise) and catchment runoff.

The Greater Sydney Harbour catchment comprises four smaller catchments, including Parramatta River, Lane Cove River, Middle Harbour and the remaining foreshore areas draining into Port Jackson. As the centrepiece of Australia’s largest city, the harbour and its tributaries are subject to intense human activity which presents coastal managers with many challenges.

Developing a whole-of-catchment Coastal Management Program is a complex task involving 33 stakeholders. Participation by all levels of government and the community is key to achieving a strategic and coordinated management framework to improve waterway health outcomes.


Organisations involved in the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program

The SCCG is the project manager for the GSHCMP Project Team, Steering Committee and Partners Group. Professor Bruce Thom from the NSW Coastal Council is the Chair.

The Project Team consists of members from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, NSW Coastal Council, NSW Environment Protection Authority, PRCG and the SCCG.

The Steering Committee assists in guiding the governance arrangements, cost sharing and development of the grant for the GSHCMP. It includes various state agency members, the SCCG, PRCG, Greater Sydney Commission, Transport NSW and Sydney Water.

The Partners Group assists the Steering Committee in ensuring appropriate consultation and collaboration across all relevant parties involved in the management and use of Sydney Harbour. The Partners Group is mainly comprised of local councils.

Read the Terms of Reference for the Steering Committee and Partners Group.


What is a Coastal Management Program?

The purpose of a Coastal Management Program (CMP) is to develop a long-term strategy for managing the coastal zone. CMPs take into consideration historical events, current conditions and future trends, such as population growth and climate change, to identify coastal management issues and the actions required to address them in a strategic and unified way.

There are five stages in the development of a CMP:

  • Stage 1: Identify the scope of a CMP
  • Stage 2: Determine risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities
  • Stage 3: Identify and evaluate options
  • Stage 4: Prepare, exhibit, finalise, certify and adopt the CMP
  • Stage 5: Implement, monitor, evaluate and report.

All coastal and estuarine NSW councils are required to develop a CMP, which replaces the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and Estuary Management Plan. CMPs are prepared by local councils in accordance with the coastal management manual, and in consultation with their communities and relevant public authorities.

The Greater Sydney Harbour CMPs will take a whole of catchment approach to address water quality issues for the Parramatta River and Sydney Harbour and are being developed in accordance with the Coastal Management Act (2016). The Act establishes specific roles and responsibilities for relevant Ministers, the NSW Coastal Council, public authorities and local councils, as well as providing opportunities for communities to participate when preparing and implementing a CMP.

Find out more about Coastal Management Programs.


Progress of the Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Program

Stage 1 Scoping Study

The Stage 1 Scoping Study for the GSHCMP was completed in 2018 as a collaborative project involving stakeholders from local and state government, Sydney Water and the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences.

The Scoping Study aimed to:

  • Identify opportunities for collaborative partnering in development of GSHCMP
  • Recommend whole-of-system approach
  • Outline a Preliminary Risk Assessment
  • Provide a Forward Plan
  • Detail studies that will contribute to Stage 2.

A Sydney Harbour Water Quality Improvement Plan was also completed, which provides a strong base for the development of the GSHCMP.


The scope of the GSHCMP

The Scoping Study focused on the four management areas defined in the Coastal Management Act (2016): wetlands and littoral rainforests, coastal use areas, coastal environment areas and coastal use areas. It also encompassed the tidal waterways of Port Jackson, Parramatta River, Lane Cove River, Middle Harbour and their catchments.

The Scoping Study recommended a whole-of-system approach with a long-term vision to:

  • Support the coordinated management and ecologically sustainable development of Greater Sydney Harbour to maintain its exceptional social, cultural, economic and environmental values, and symbolic status as Australia’s most globally iconic waterway.
  • Progress to the next stage (Stage 2) that will focus on coastal hazards and threats.


Stage 2 Planning Grant Application for the Coastal and Estuary Grants Program

In September 2021, the SCCG and PRCG were successful in securing a $274,000 grant through the NSW Government’s Coastal and Estuary Grants Program, to address the impact of urban stormwater discharge on receiving waters. The program aims to increase the resilience of coastal communities and implement actions to improve the health of the NSW coastlines and estuaries.

The funding will contribute towards the consolidation of all urban stormwater data, enabling individual councils to develop management actions that will be considered as part of the GSHCMP, in coordination with the management programs of state agencies.

The negative impacts of urban stormwater runoff on Greater Sydney Harbour was identified as a key issue in the Stage 1 Scoping Study.

The grant application involved the support of 20 councils in the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment. It is the largest collaboration of local government agencies to have received a NSW Government planning grant.

Read the Media Release from the Minister for Local Government


Regional Litter Prevention Strategy for Greater Sydney Harbour

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The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) and Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) have completed the development of the Regional Litter Prevention Strategy (RLPS) for the Greater Sydney Harbour catchment.

Funded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in the Own It and Act: Round 6 Community Litter Grant funding stream, the strategy will create a unified and coordinated approach to litter prevention across Greater Sydney Harbour catchments.

The RLPS outlines the actions that aim to support litter reduction targets in the NSW Government’s Waste and Materials Strategy 2041, including a 30 per cent reduction in plastic litter by 2025, and a 60 per cent reduction of all litter items by 2030. The strategy will provide a regional approach to litter prevention, and embed litter reduction activities into council policy, strategy and programs, to help reduce the volume of litter entering Sydney Harbour and associated waterways.

In August 2021, a community perception survey around litter and littering behaviour was conducted with the results informing the priority actions for the RLPS. A Community Litter Forum was held online in October 2021 to consult on the draft strategy. A draft of the strategy was approved by the EPA in May 2022 and distributed to all stakeholders in the second half of 2022.

Click here to read the full draft Regional Litter Prevention Strategy.

Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper

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The Parramatta River flows through the geographic heart of Sydney and one of the fastest growing regions in Australia. Making the river swimmable delivers on the sustainability and liveability goals in the Greater Sydney Commission’s District Plans and is core to achieving the vision for Sydney’s Central River City.

Step 4 of the Parramatta River Masterplan is focused on reviewing the strategic and statutory planning frameworks that contribute to delivering our vision for a world class river. Working closely with our partners, our review has resulted in the release of a recommendations paper, Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River.

The paper sets out three broad areas for planning reform:

  1. Simple updates to council’s Local Environment Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs), to adopt over the next few years. These changes will ensure that development does more to reduce stormwater pollution and foster healthy ecosystems.
  2. Developing, piloting and adopting two new frameworks for improving waterway health outcomes in new development:
    • A Blue Green Index Tool for assessing development applications
    • A Blue Green Grid for riparian mapping
  3. Working with our project partners and stakeholders to strengthen and support waterway health considerations in all planning approval pathways. This will require broader reform beyond the remit of local government.

Standardise the Standards – Final Recommendations Paper
Download the full Final Recommendations Paper

Recommendations Paper Executive Summary
Download the Recommendations Paper Executive Summary


To get an overview of this planning reform work, please watch this short video.

Final Recommendations Paper Webinar Series

The consultancy team from Civille and Macquarie University held a series of short webinars in order to share the key recommendations in the recently released paper for Step 4Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River and get attendees thinking about how we move the recommendations into implementation.

Webinar 1: Improving local planning provisions for diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health

This webinar provides council and agency staff with an overview of the drivers for policy reform to address the issues of diffuse stormwater pollution and waterway health in new development. It covers the recommendations contained within the recently released paper for Step 4: Strategic and Statutory Planning Review to Create Our Living River, focusing on the two key policy directions: the blue green index for WSUD and green infrastructure and the blue-green grid of waterway and riparian land. The webinar then goes into some detail on the actions specific to councils on updating their Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans.


Webinar 2: A blue-green index to reduce diffuse stormwater pollution

This webinar introduces the proposed new blue-green index tool. We explain how we think this new tool can address the complex planning issues that exist in stormwater management in Sydney. We also look at the proposed features of this new tool and compare it to similar tools that have been adopted in Australia and elsewhere. We will then go into the steps required to pilot the tool and a discussion on the challenges.


Webinar 3: Blue-green grid for improved waterway health

This webinar introduces the concept of a blue-green grid for the Parramatta River catchment. It is suitable for council and agency staff interested in waterway and catchment management, strategic planning and biodiversity conservation. We discuss the reasons why we need the blue-green grid, how it could be implemented across the catchment, and the next steps required to develop the grid.


Learn more about Step 4 of the Parramatta River Masterplan – Standardise the Standards.