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In the Hacking River catchment, a community discussion meeting was held in Cronulla on 31 March 1998, and 36 submissions were received.
Most submissions supported a healthy catchment, with value put on good quality water and sufficient flows. People indicated that they wanted to enhance the environment to ensure the long-term viability of ecosystems. They wanted the recreational values of the catchment upheld, especially as they related to use of the estuary and the Royal National Park. They also wanted consideration given to conserving the diversity of native animals and their habitats. A broad range of environmental problems within the catchment was highlighted (see 'Major issues' below). Many people supported a whole-of-catchment approach to improve river ecosystems and promote environmental responsibility among both residents and visitors.
There was widespread recognition that achieving the objectives would involve some cost for the community, although many submissions indicated that having a healthy catchment was worthwhile-and might increase business and improve the residents' quality of life. Most people strongly supported spreading the costs throughout the community, rather than targeting a particular sector. They recognised that the community as a whole would benefit from achieving good water quality, and a flow regime that protected both human and environmental health. The local community indicated that they wanted to be involved in deciding how to work towards meeting the objectives, and in determining actual requirements.
The catchment community supported all the proposed environmental values, and gave particular emphasis to a healthy aquatic ecology, safe swimming, water looking pleasant and clean, and water being fit to drink (after some treatment), especially within the Royal National Park. The effect of development upstream of the national park on downstream Water quality was identified as an issue that could compromise proposed environmental values.
The responses indicated that the community regarded the most important river flow issues as being the need to retain some natural variability in the flow regime, minimise the impact of instream structures such as weirs, and protect mangrove areas within the estuary. Residents of Port Hacking were particularly concerned to ensure adequate flushing of the estuary.
The community acknowledged that improving flows in the river would be costly, but would provide environmental benefits.
Several major issues have been identified as needing remedial or maintenance action in the Hacking River catchment. Comment on some of these is included in Section 3, as part of setting objectives. The issues include:
Other important concerns were:
Some of the above issues already receive considerable attention and resources. Existing Government programs include the $3 billion Waterways Package (May 1997) and the $60 million Urban Stormwater Management Program (September 1997); and assistance through the Estuary Management Program and schemes such as Natural Heritage Trust funding, Rivercare, Waterwatch, local government capital grants and ongoing work by Sydney Water. The Waterways Package provides funds to improve wastewater treatment and disposal and to prevent 80-90% of sewer overflows in the Sydney region. Around $100,000 has been allocated to local councils under the Urban Stormwater Management Program in the Hacking River Catchment for specific works to stop stormwater pollution.
Where programs and actions such as these are already underway in the catchment, they need to be acknowledged and, where possible, incorporated in water and estuary management plans.
This page was published 1 May 2006