Lower Georges River stormwater action project
Grant number: 3018
Grant funding: $200,000
Local government area/s: Rockdale City Council
Location/s: Lower Georges River catchment
Project partners: Rockdale City Council
The Georges River catchment area, of approximately 920 km2, is highly urbanised, with a population of around 1.2 million people. It encompasses various land uses including residential and industrial. There is manufacturing, waste disposal, market gardening, an army firing range, mining, commercial fishing and a nuclear research facility. The southern part of the Rockdale local government area is in the lower section of the catchment, where the river meets Botany Bay.
The Lower Georges River is a popular recreational waterway and contains important aquatic and bird habitats. Stormwater pollution from a range of sources has a major impact on water quality and thus the natural, recreational and aesthetic amenity of the river.
The measurable objectives of the project were to:
- increase local residents' awareness of stormwater pollution and catchment management issues
- improve household practices to minimise impacts on stormwater
- reduce the amount of gross pollutants entering Georges River.
The Lower Georges River stormwater action project was developed, on completion of the Lower Georges River stormwater management plan (SMP), to protect and improve the Lower Georges River.
The SMP identified the following major catchment issues:
- catchment and waterway erosion and sedimentation
- elevated bacterial and nutrient concentrations
- elevated levels of suspended solids
- degraded aquatic and riparian habitats
- poor practices.
The SMP also identified some major pollution 'hotspots' in the Rockdale area.
Methodology and tools
To prevent pollution entering the waterways, community education activities were planned and structural works undertaken, including the installation of gross pollutant traps and litter nets at identified pollution 'hotspots'.
Pre- and post-project community surveys investigated community attitudes towards and actions to prevent stormwater pollution. Specific target audiences (teachers, depot staff and NESB residents) were also surveyed after visits, training and workshops.
The initial community survey highlighted a lack of understanding of the differences between sewerage and stormwater systems. It also revealed that residents were uncertain where their stormwater ended up, making community ownership of their catchment a difficult task. A school education program, community workshops and public displays were developed to resolve these issues.
The community commented that they would take the stormwater message more seriously once all council staff carried out their duties in an environmentally friendly matter, so council depot staff underwent stormwater training.
The following were developed:
- fridge magnet calendars including useful tips on how to help Botany Bay
- a brochure in response to the results of the pre-project community survey, including information in English, Greek, Macedonian, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and Italian, with 'The Drain is Just for Rain' logo
- a schools program: The let's cut the waste/drain is just for rain schools environmental education program, an integrated waste and environmental education package
- bus shelter advertising featuring the 'The Drain is Just for Rain' logo and 'Your drains flow to the Georges River and Botany Bay'
- a stormwater education display including posters on Rockdale City Council stormwater projects and survey results of Lower Georges River residents. Posters were titled: What is Rockdale City Council doing to help?; Know where it goes; Sewerage and stormwater; How you can help to do the right thing; Your waterway highway and The drain is just for rain - Georges River
- media articles and advertising
- signage at the sites of structural works, containing the messages: 'The drain is just for rain', 'Council is attempting to improve our waterways', 'How the device works', 'A lot of rubbish and organics enter waterways from their neighbourhood'
- NESB workshops for the Greek and Chinese communities conducted by EPA-accredited bilingual stormwater educators
- education materials in Greek and Chinese
- drain stencilling
- web information and fact sheets.
- Stormwater messages reached residents and businesses via the direct delivery of 6000 calendars and brochures - another 1500 were distributed at community events and during school visits.
- Students at 14 primary schools in the Rockdale local government area took part in the school education program during which more than 1500 Year 1 and 5 students were taught about ways to improve and preserve their local environment.
- Stormwater messages on bus shelters reached those travelling to and from the Georges River.
- A total of 61 residents attended stormwater awareness workshops conducted in community languages for the Chinese and Greek communities.
- A total of 10 depot staff training courses were delivered to over 161 participants.
Page last updated: 26 February 2011