Cooks River environmental assessment and education project
Grant number: 2036
Grant funding: $1.3 million
Local government area/s: Ashfield, Auburn, Bankstown, Botany Bay, Burwood, Canterbury City, Hurstville, Kogarah, Marrickville, Randwick, Rockdale, South Sydney and Strathfield councils (known as the Cooks River Association of Councils)
Location/s: Cooks River catchment area, Southern Sydney
Project partners: Canterbury City Council and Cooks River Association of Councils
The Cooks River system is one of the most urbanised and degraded in Australia. The catchment is home to almost 400,000 people with 130,000 dwellings and around 20,000 businesses. Stormwater has been identified as a key contributor to water quality and quantity problems in the catchment.
The project sought to:
- improve the quality and quantity of stormwater runoff by: encouraging changes to industry practices by working with business and advising proprietors on environmental performance, cleaner production and best management practice; encouraging individual actions in the residential community to reduce pollutants and manage stormwater at source; and raising awareness of stormwater as an important community and environmental issue
- enhance the water quality and health of the Cooks River.
This project concentrated on the removal of pollutants at source by increasing awareness in the business and general community of stormwater issues and pollutants, and ways to minimise their impact on the environment.
The project was made up of two discrete yet overlapping components:
- working with small to medium-size businesses to identify areas where environmental performance could be improved
- encouraging the general community to play its part, supported by special programs for school students and the Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese communities.
Methodology and tools
A project manager and project officer, located at Canterbury City Council, coordinated the project, which was supported across the councils by a team of six roving assessment officers.
Pre- and post-project attitude surveys provided a basis for developing the key messages and were a measure of the project's overall success.
The project involved catchment-based environmental assessment, including:
- focus groups pre- and post-program
- industry environmental assessments
- water quality monitoring
- an industry award program
- assessment officer training
- media activities.
General community (including NESB communities and school students)
The project involved catchment-based community education including:
- a community attitude survey and focus groups pre- and post-program
- the use of bilingual educators
- school-based activities
- a regular project newsletter
- project brochures
- media activities
- a community mural, designed and developed by the Muslim Women's Association.
The following were also developed:
- a framework industry assessment checklist (available to councils throughout Australia)
- an industry database linked to the assessment checklist
- a New Environment Assessment Toolkit (NEAT)
- a training program for council staff about NEAT
- multi-lingual industry information sheets
- an industry pledge in Arabic, Chinese, English, Korean and Vietnamese
- A3 and A4 catchment maps
- promotional mugs
- industry and community posters - Help protect the Cooks River - stop stormwater pollution and The Cooks River is fighting back - but it needs your help
- Avante Card postcards
- a school stormwater kit with specific Cooks River activities
- a calico shopping bag
- a dustpan and broom set (multilingual).
To access many of these resources, see the web links at the end of this fact sheet, in particular Cooks River Environmental Assessment and Education Program.
- Over 1,700 assessments supported industry
- Positive relationships were developed between business managers and councils
- A major improvement in how hundreds of businesses managed their environmental impacts
- Real-time case studies involving real industries and their achievements
- Improved community awareness of stormwater as an environmental issue
- Participation of eight catchment schools in the Kids, Companies and Creeks stormwater education program, run by Oz GREEN
- Raised awareness by the media in the catchment of the importance of protecting the Cooks River
- Established strong links with key ethnic groups.
The environmental assessment officer training course provided officers with a thorough understanding of all aspects of the program and minimised queries from business operators.
Project resources and further information
CookNet at Canterbury City Council
Phone the Ethnic Communities Council of NSW on (02) 9319 0288
Stage 2 grants details
Page last updated: 26 February 2011