Our Living River

In 2008, the City of Canada Bay joined in partnership with 11 other councils and agencies including Sydney Water, NSW Environment Protection Authority and NSW Planning & Environment, to create the Parramatta River Catchment Group.

Our shared vision was to create a living river. One that the millions of people who live and work within 20 minutes of the Parramatta River would be able to swim in it again.

Our goal is to make Parramatta River swimmable by 2025. Four sites are already open.

Twelve new sites have been scoped, with investigations on water quality, swim safety, ecological health and community interest in progress. Canada Bay has two planned areas for swimming access – Brays Bay at McIlwaine Park, Rhodes East, and Bayview Park Concord.

The next step to making our vision a reality is a ten-step Parramatta River Masterplan.

The Masterplan has been designed on scientific studies and community consultation and outlines how we will achieve key targets for:

  • Clean, clear water that is safe and supports life in the river including healthy ecosystems in the river and natural creeks
  • Quality facilities for events, relaxation, recreation and family fun
  • Greater access through public transport, walkways and cycle ways
  • Healthy ecosystems in the river, the catchment and surrounding creeks
  • Supporting our local economy by creating opportunities for local business development.

  • Aboriginal Heritage

    Aboriginal people have had a custodial role with the Parramatta River and the land surrounding and under it since time immemorial. For the estimated 29 family groups, scientific explorations have dated their occupation to around 30,000 years.

    It is internationally recognised that Aboriginal nations manage land and waterways as living entities. As living entities, rivers have a body and spirit and require nourishment and care. We recognise the Parramatta River as a living entity, and the importance of Aboriginal leadership in the management of the Parramatta River and the lands surrounding it.

    The holistic approach of the Parramatta River Masterplan addresses DUBA (LAND) – developments, water systems, regeneration of biodiversity and stabilisation of river banks; BUDU (WATER) – feeding creeks and catchments, surface water, flow speed, and the river body itself; and BARRA (SKY) – the weather, calendar systems, climate, and day and night. Aboriginal nations have successfully continued their cultural practices to maintain the custodial role in managing the DUBA, BUDU, BARRA, and we acknowledge and prioritise their important historical, present and future roles in breathing life into and creating sustainability on Country.

    The Ten-step Masterplan

    1. Get swimming

    There are four places you can swim in the river. The more we swim in them, the more others will join us and community support will grow.

    2. Keep watch

    A Riverwatch water monitoring program will help us protect existing swimming spots, open new swimming sites and understand what makes water quality change over time.

    3. Create new swimming spots

    Our goal is to create three new swimming spots by 2025. We’re already looking at 12 possible locations to make recommendations on those that will be the safest and most popular swimming sites.

    4. Standardise the standards

    The Parramatta River’s catchment spans 11 local council areas. To create a swimmable river we need to work together to standardise policies and practices that impact water quality.

    5. Reduce stormwater runoff

    Stormwater runoff - and all the rubbish and other pollution it can bring with it - is the number one way our river gets dirty. Water sensitive development that absorbs and uses rain where it lands will improve river quality.

    6. Improve overflows

    When it rains, stormwater can flow into the sewer system, causing it to overflow into our creeks and rivers. Putting measures in place to stop these overflows is essential to making our river swimmable again.

    7. Involve the community

    Picking up your dog’s droppings and not littering are just two ways community can help create a swimmable river. Helping people understand this is a key to success.

    8. Bring in nature

    A living river needs people, fish, grasses, plants and animals to be a complete ecosystem. Improving habitats - especially for our five mascots - helps bring nature back to the river.

    9. Report back regularly

    Regular monitoring and reporting shows us if we’re winning, and helps reminds everyone involved that this is a long term project worth investing in.

    10. Create clear leadership

    A big project needs clear leadership. Sydney Water has been identified as the best placed body to lead the group, but everyone needs to do their bit to achieve the mission.