Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River
Community comment on the objectives

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Overview

A community discussion meeting attended by 20 people was held at Kirribilli on 29 April 1998 and, subsequently, 17 written submissions were received.

The community felt that the major issue was the need to improve management of stormwater (among other problems) to reduce the level of pollutants in the stormwater-such as from sewer overflows. Water-sensitive urban design, with infiltration, on-site detention, restoration of streams, and treatment of stormwater to reduce pollutants were strongly supported by the community. Litter and silt were particularly mentioned in relation to stormwater pollution, as were nutrients and pathogens.

The impact of boating on waterways was mentioned, and it was suggested that all craft should have self-contained toilets or sewage pump-out facilities.

Full protection of native vegetation along creeks and foreshores was regarded as essential by most of the community, from both ecological and visual amenity viewpoints. People said that weeds and urban run-off should not be allowed to affect bushland.

Stricter controls on development to minimise impacts on waterways were also supported.

Value of the resource

Most people wanted healthier catchment ecosystems and protection of biodiversity by maintaining ecological processes. At the very least, they felt that further deterioration should not be allowed. Health of the environment was regarded by some people as a value in itself, not just for human uses.

The main environmental values desired for the freshwater parts of the Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River catchment included healthy and diverse aquatic plants and animals, boating and swimming (as a long-term objective). People felt that the saline parts of the Harbour should have healthy ecosystems (including maintaining biodiversity of local plant and animal species); and people should be able to swim, fish and safely eat their catch, go boating, and see pleasant and clean-looking water.

Water quality

Most people were concerned to improve water quality by increasing treatment of wastewater and fixing sewer overflows. Some people supported targeted dredging of existing sediment in the Harbour.

Deoxygenation and fish kills are a problem in the upper estuarine part of the Duck River.

People recognised that land-clearing and development have led to poor water quality. Some people thought it important to have more monitoring of water quality, with the results being made public. People also felt that work by local councils on water quality should be acknowledged.

River flows

Flow issues were generally regarded as less important. However, there was support for more natural flows, including re-establishing water cycle processes and creek systems.

Flooding was mentioned as a problem in some areas (such as Duck River and Toongabbie Creek); and accelerated sedimentation, as well as marinas and moorings, were thought to affect natural circulation patterns within the Harbour.

For the freshwater streams and rivers, maintaining or restoring some naturalness in the flow regime was seen as a priority. In both freshwater regions and in the Harbour, the impact of barriers such as weirs and tidal barriers was considered important, as was the quality of water released from detention basins. Maintaining natural processes within the Harbour was seen as the highest priority.

Other concerns

Some submissions commented on costs. People recognised that there would be costs and felt that these should be spread through the community. People felt strongly that the community had a responsibility to fund implementation of these objectives, for present and future generations, even if this challenged current community lifestyles.

More information was sought on the costs and other aspects of the process.

The community wanted implementation of actions to be multi-faceted (using legislation, strategies, policies, planning and actions), with cooperation from State and local governments, industry, and an informed community. It was recognised that there would be benefits with environmental improvement, such as more recreation opportunities and tourism, where desired.

Education to improve community understanding and appreciation of water quality and stream flow management issues was supported, and the community's further involvement was sought.

Some people felt that the options presented in the discussion paper (EPA 1997) were skewed in favour of rural catchments. A catchment-management approach was regarded as essential, both for managing impacts on the catchment and for public involvement.

Major issues

The process of developing the objectives has identified the following major issues as suggested priorities for action to achieve a healthy and viable Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River system:

Existing programs

Many of these major issues already receive considerable attention and resources, for example:

Where programs such as these are already under way, they need to be acknowledged and, where possible, incorporated in water and estuary management plans.

This page was published 1 May 2006

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