Our Living River 10-Year Anniversary

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10-Years of Our Living River

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Our Living River mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.

Launched by the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) in 2014, the mission set an ambitious goal to improve the health of the river and its catchment to enable swimming at selected sites. It also aimed to conserve important ecological areas and increase habitat for wildlife.

The Our Living River project established a new vision, purpose, and mission:

• Our vision: We believe Sydney deserves and world-class river
• Our purpose: To make Parramatta River a living river.
• Our mission: To make Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025.

The project’s first milestone came with the launch of the Lake Parramatta swim site, which reopened after being closed for more than 70 years.

In 2018, the PRCG released the Parramatta River Masterplan: Duba, Budu, Barra – ten steps to a living river that outlines the steps needed to achieve a healthy, liveable, and sustainable river catchment.

In 2022, City of Canada Bay Council opened Bayview Park Baths in Concord – the first site on the river to be opened in more than 50 years. More swim sites are planned to open in the next couple of years at Putney, Bedlam Bay in Gladesville and Callan Point in Lilyfield.

The project is the culmination of years of planning, research, and collaboration with our many partners and the community to address different aspects of ecological and waterway health, including riparian protection, biodiversity, and litter prevention. It has also involved working with local and state government agencies to improve stormwater and wastewater management, water sensitive urban design, and land-use planning.

A range of celebratory events is being held throughout the year.

Events

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Our Living River 10th Anniversary Community Day

This event, held at Bayview Park on 24 March, provided an opportunity for PRCG partners, supporters, and the community to come together to enjoy the beauty of the Parramatta River and recognise the considerable efforts of all those who have contributed to improving its health.

There was a range of community and environmental stalls and activities on offer. Attendees tried their hand at kayaking, learned more about the bar-tailed godwit and other shorebirds, took a dip in the newest swim site on the river, or just relaxed and enjoyed the free entertainment and BBQ.

The Parramatta River Catchment Group also officially launched the research document, First Nations Peoples of the Parramatta River and surrounding region, published in late 2023. Visitors viewed the recent upgrades to the park and cultural interpretive designs by Dharug artist Leanne Watson.

Parramatta River Boat Tour (for government representatives)

Date: Thursday, 2 May 2024
Time: 3:00pm-5:30pm
Departs: Meadowbank Wharf
Host Agencies: PRCG and Sydney Water

This tour will provide guests with an opportunity to cruise along the beautiful Parramatta River where they will see remnants of the river’s industrial past and examples of its vibrant future. They will visit Bayview Park Baths in Concord that opened in 2022 as well as other sites planned to open later this year.

Speakers will talk about the PRCG’s journey over the last decade to improve the health and liveability of the river catchment, and the value of activating the foreshore for community recreation. Guests will also hear about the importance of multi-agency collaboration that has allowed us to ‘turn the tide’ and take a more holistic and regional approach to waterway management.

  • Nadia Young, Coordinator, Parramatta River Catchment Group: Acknowledgement of Country and Welcome.
  • Councillor Mark Drury (Inner West Council), PRCG Chair: PRCG’s Masterplan to make the river swimmable again and the importance of long-term collaboration to achieve real outcomes for the community.
  • Paul Higham, Head of Western Sydney Development, Sydney Water: Sydney Water’s role as a key delivery partner to help implement the Masterplan, the significant investment to improve the wastewater network, and the RiverWatch program.
  • Fiona Morrison, Commissioner, Open Space, Department of Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure: the success of the Places to Swim program and work of the PRCG in advocating for the Parramatta River.

Guests will also hear from representatives from Canada Bay, Hunter’s Hill and Ryde Councils about the work involved in planning and building their swim sites.

Other events being planned

Check back regularly for information on other 10th anniversary events being held later in the year:
• Bedlam Bay swim site launch (date TBC)
• Putney Park swim site launch (date TBC)
• Riverfest (21-22 September)

10 years of Our Living River in review

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The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is an alliance of councils, state government agencies, and community groups. In 2014, the PRCG launched the ‘Our Living River’ mission to make the Parramatta River swimmable again by 2025. Over the past decade, the PRCG has worked closely with its member organisations and the community on projects to improve water quality and stormwater management, reduce litter, enhance biodiversity, and raise community awareness and involvement.

Achievements and milestones over the past 10 years include:

  • Two swim sites opened. The first at Lake Parramatta in 2015, and the second at Bayview Park, Concord (2022).
  • Three swim sites under preparation for opening at Bedlam Bay, Gladesville, Callan Point Lilyfield and Putney Park, Putney.
  • Six industry awards, including x and x.
  • ‘Get the Site Right’ education and compliance campaign to reduce runoff launched in 2016.
  • More than 300 stakeholder events throughout the catchment area.
  • Launch of the River Watch water quality monitoring program in 2019.
  • Launch of the Parramatta River Masterplan: Duba, Budu, Barra – Ten Steps to a Living River in 2019.
  • More than $3 million in government funding for various projects, including x
  • Riverkeeper Program established in 2016 to support community-led environmental activities – funded by the NSW Government and supported by Landcare NSW
  • Regional Litter Prevention Strategy for Greater Sydney released in 2022
  • Change makers course for local residents in the Parramatta River Catchment held in 2021.
  • Designing with Country Framework, funded by Metro Greenspace, released in 2022.