Streets to rivers project - stage 3
Grant number: 3118
Grant funding: $690,800
Local government area/s: Marrickville Council
Location/s: Subcatchments of the Cooks River catchment
Project partners: Marrickville Council, Sydney Water
The Cooks River catchment, of 102 sq km, has a population of 400,000 including 20,000 businesses. The river provides a recreational corridor from Botany Bay to Homebush Bay. It has significant remnant vegetation, is a potential wildlife corridor and has recreational and heritage values.
The river is one of the most polluted urban rivers in Australia. Both Marrickville and the City of Canterbury councils receive numerous complaints regarding litter, particularly after rain.
This is the third stage of the Streets to rivers project (see stage 1 and stage 2)
The project was devised to:
- reduce levels of pollutants in the Cooks River by installing gross pollutant traps and boom nets on stormwater outlets along Cooks River
- pilot innovative stormwater education methods, particularly for communities from non-English speaking backgrounds
- undertake comprehensive monitoring of the project and complete an evaluation report
- inform residents, business owners, workers and visitors to the subcatchments of the impact of stormwater pollution on the Cooks River and how they could help prevent pollution.
This comprehensive program built on past programs and policies, developed new strategies and focused on maintaining ongoing, improved stormwater pollution outcomes. It consolidated the outcomes achieved in the Streets to rivers project - stage 1 and stage 2. It also sought to expand the previous stages to include a larger subcatchment of the Cooks River and a significant section of the Marrickville Council area.
Methodology and tools
The community education program involved resident outreach, a schools program incorporating commercial outreach and a media strategy.
The resident outreach aspect of the project focused on people from non-English speaking backgrounds. It involved 12 different events including street events and festivals, guest speakers at church functions and park and shopping strip displays. It was supported by a mix of paid and volunteer workers, including 10 bilingual community educators.
A street performer, Ellie the Eel, and the launch of the 'Bin your Butt' container (for cigarette butts) were particularly successful.
The schools program ran for three months and involved students and the broader school community from three lead schools in the local government area.
The program was run in conjunction with Oz GREEN and Sydney Water. The core program adapted the Kids, Companies and Creeks schools program. This included an initial school visit and introductory lesson, followed by a tour of the river and investigation of stormwater pollution problems.
The project team then worked with students to devise a pollution prevention plan. They made a catchment snapshot by testing water quality all the way up the catchment.
The final stage of the program involved a Catchment Congress where the three lead schools invited 5 members from 12 other schools in the catchment to Marrickville Council to devise stormwater prevention action plans for each school.
Commercial outreach was integrated into the schools program. Students conducted a survey of commercial premises, which raised business proprietors' and managers' awareness of stormwater pollution issues. The council also conducted a pre- and post-program survey of commercial premises.
A media strategy complemented and supported the other components by promoting the issues in the locality.
The following were developed or organised:
- press releases
- program launches
- an art competition for children to develop a stormwater pollution prevention advertisement
- coverage on commercial television
- updates in the council newsletter
- 'Bin your Butt' containers (made from recycled containers obtained through Reverse Garbage, a recycling organisation in the Marrickville Council area)
- two school murals using the students' art work created during stormwater lessons and discussions about the Cooks River now and as students would like to see it in the future - Years 5 and 6
- street performances - Ellie the Eel in conjunction with the bilingual education team
- eco tours
- interpretive signage along Cooks River
- installation of 8 permanent and 22 temporary gross pollution traps
- water quality testing right up the catchment.
The non-structural elements of the project were independently evaluated while the structural elements were monitored.
- Over 4,500 community members and residents, one-third of whom were spoken to in their language of origin, received stormwater pollution messages.
- Over 2,000 'Bin your Butt' containers were distributed.
- News coverage of the 'Bin your Butt' launch on commercial television reached metropolitan Sydney.
- Students from three lead schools received stormwater pollution education through involvement in the Kids, Companies and Creeks program and worked intensively over three months on a comprehensive stormwater project.
- Stormwater prevention plans were developed for 15 schools in the catchment through involvement in the Catchment Congress.
- Stormwater messages reached 518 students from five schools other than those in the schools program, through two integrated stormwater pollution activities presented by council education officers.
Working across councils and with other partners requires flexibility and time so consultation can be adequately undertaken.
Keep your goals in sight, and develop that great idea like the 'Bin your Butt' container - it may be the real success story of the program.
Project resources and further information
Marrickville Council. Go to 'council services', 'the environment', 'community action' then 'waterways'.
See related case study: Streets to rivers project - stage 1.
See related case study: Streets to rivers project - stage 2.
www.ozgreen.org under 'Australian Projects'
Stage 3 grant details
Page last updated: 26 February 2011