One year into the Our Living River initiative to bring swimming back to the Parramatta River (the river) by 2025, the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) has released its first 12 month progress report.
Newly elected PRCG Chairman City of Ryde Mayor Clr Jerome Laxale welcomed the report: “I’m pleased that we’ve made some serious progress on the way to achieving our goal of swimming in the Parramatta River again.
“I, like many others, was captivated by the notion of being able to swim in this river again. I live around 2km from Meadowbank, and I cannot wait to take my kids down there in 10 years’ time.”
“Community involvement is paying off already! This year we saw a pod of eight dolphins seen swimming as far west as Silverwater Bridge – the first dolphin sighting in a long, long time,” he said.
The Our Living River initiative is spearheaded by 16 local councils and state government agencies and community groups within the catchment area.
With the necessary partnerships and support in place, the group has now taken steps to establishing a Riverwatch monitoring program and developing a river master plan, to look at all issues related to restoring the river to full health and activation. Through this they are setting a range of achievable targets to bring currently unusable parts of the river and surrounding creeks back to life.
“After decades of neglect, we are now bringing our river and surrounding creeks back to their former glory. This will have tangible social and economic benefits to the two million residents who surround the area,” Clr Laxale said.
“This year is crucial. We’ll be asking communities who live around the river to help shape what they want for the river, and how we make it swimmable again.”
Currently, the river west of Cabarita is un-swimmable, with the exception of Lake Parramatta1.
Highlights of the report include:
- Lake Parramatta1 opened for swimming for the first time in 72 years – the Lake is currently voted as the most popular place where people want to swim.
- More than 4,000 votes lodged online for where people want to swim on the river. To have your say and vote, go to ourlivingriver.com.au
- Sightings of dolphins, seals and penguins swimming in the river.
- Our Living Catchment Fauna and Habitat Report launched highlighting the richness and diversity of animals that exist in natural banks and bushland surrounding the Parramatta River.
- Commitment shown from all-levels of government and the community to look at issues related to restoring the river to full health and activation.
- The Environment Protection Authority and The Hills Shire Council join as new members, completing the partnership needed to achieve the mission.
- Commitment from the Minister for Environment to support developing a Riverwatch monitoring program for the river.
- Macquarie University report launched, investigating five issues that impacts on the mission to make the river swimmable again.
- High profile ambassadors for Our Living River announced, including the Wests Tigers, academics from four Sydney Universities, State and local MPs and Councillors.
- Advocating for a replacement of the RiverCat ferries with a new, low wake design to reduce the impacts on future swimming.
To celebrate their first anniversary, members of the PRCG came together at Meadowbank Baths, one of the historic swimming locations to re-create a picture of the past. (See attached historic photo).
For more go to ourlivingriver.com.au
About Our Living River: The Our Living River initiative is being delivered by the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG). The PRCG is a group of councils, government agencies and community groups who are working to improve the Parramatta River and creeks that flow into it. Members include: Ashfield Council, Auburn Council, Bankstown City Council, Blacktown City Council, Burwood Council, City of Canada Bay Council, Holroyd City Council, Hunters Hill Council, Leichhardt Municipal Council, Parramatta City Council, City of Ryde Council, Strathfield Municipal Council, The Hills Shire Council, the Environment Protection Authority, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and Sydney Water.
Voting map and chart of top 10 most popular swimming spots. Community faces and ambassadors showing their support for the mission (upon request).
www.ourlivingriver.com.au Youtube/archival videos incl a) Rob Stokes announcing NSW Government’s commitment to the mission, b) Our Living River community events and snapshots of key ambassadors, c) Launch of the Our Living Catchment Fauna and Habitat Report , d) Natural History of Parramatta River video e) 1910 Lifesaving Festival at Little Coogee on Parramatta River in Parramatta Park.
Dolphins in the Parramatta River video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzvdE-LbKcw