Legislation, policies and plans are in place to improve the health of waterways and to manage water resources. For example, the Coastal Management Act 2016 integrates coastal management and land use planning and the Fisheries Management Act 1994 protects aquatic biodiversity. The NSW Water Quality and River Flow Objectives identify the high-level goals for several catchments in the District. State agencies and councils also manage the health of waterways through planning and development decisions, environmental programs and through the management of public land.
The 2017 Metropolitan Water Plan is the NSW Government’s plan to ensure there is sufficient water to meet the needs of the people and environment of Greater Sydney now and for the future. The Government’s WaterSmart Cities Program will explore new ways to supply drinking water and manage stormwater and wastewater in a more integrated, cost-effective and sustainable way.
The Marine Estate Management Authority has prepared the draft Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018–28, which, when finalised, will support a clean healthy and productive marine environment.1
This District Plan aims to protect and improve the environmental health of waterways. Many councils have identified and mapped environmentally sensitive areas of waterways that are important to the local community and use additional local provisions and natural waterways and environment zones to protect these areas.
For local waterways, where governance and ownership of the waterway can be highly fragmented, a green infrastructure approach, which values waterways as infrastructure, can lead to more innovative management of waterways with outcomes that better reflect community expectations.
An integrated approach to the protection and management of waterways will also rely on more comprehensive approaches to the monitoring and reporting of water quality and waterway health. Councils monitor water quality and waterway health, implement sustainable urban water management and encourage water sensitive urban design.
The District Plan aims to integrate the objectives for waterways that are set out in legislation, policies and plans, by prioritising the management of waterways as green infrastructure. This involves:
- reconceptualising waterways as an infrastructure asset that provides environmental, social and economic benefits to communities
- integrating approaches to protecting environmentally sensitive waterways within a network of green infrastructure
- addressing the cumulative impacts of development and land management decisions across catchments to improve water quality and waterway health.
Collaboration and coordination across levels of government and with the community is needed to deliver the green space, urban cooling and integrated water management outcomes needed to support the South District. This is particularly important for the Cooks River, which passes through both the South and Eastern City districts.
Future work will apply the lessons from previous management of the District’s rivers, notably the Georges River Combined Councils’ Committee, which coordinates the management of the Georges River, and the Cooks River Alliance.
Catchment-scale management and coordination can:
- solve multiple problems – for example, catchment condition and water scarcity, or water quality impacts on aquifers, estuaries and the marine estate
- set objectives for the District’s waterways and enable them to be achieved in innovative and cost-effective ways
- enable both public and private benefits to be achieved – for example, stormwater from private land could provide a benefit to public management of green space and urban waterways
- promote integrated water cycle management and investment in sustainable water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.
Strategic planning needs to manage the cumulative impacts of activities and associated infrastructure such as moorings, marinas and boat launching facilities while ensuring public access and opportunities for swimming, and small boat and kayak launching from publicly-owned land. Access to waterways should not compromise the integrity of environmentally sensitive aquatic and riparian habitats.
Botany Bay is recognised for its significant economic, environmental and cultural assets. Kamay Botany Bay National Park, Towra Point Nature Reserve and Cape Banks Aquatic Reserve have been established in recognition of Botany Bay’s environmental and cultural significance, while other waterway and foreshore areas also contain valuable biodiversity and scenic coastal landscapes.
The land adjacent to Botany Bay was settled for thousands of years by the Eora and Tharawal people. Aboriginal people continue to have strong association with Botany Bay. Botany Bay was the scene of the first European landfall on the east coast of Australia in 1770 and Captain Cook’s landing at Kurnell place has become a popular tourist attraction.
As home to Sydney Airport and Port Botany, Botany Bay is Greater Sydney’s main international passenger and trade gateway. The waters around La Perouse are renowned for snorkelling and scuba diving, while the beaches and extensive foreshore parklands along the Grand Parade provide attractive settings for recreation.
Councils of both the Eastern City and South districts are working together to improve water quality in the Georges River and the Cooks River, which both flow into Botany Bay. Managing water quality and waterway health continues to be a significant challenge, given the highly urbanised nature of the catchments, the changes to the shoreline of the Bay following reclamation for infrastructure, and the legacy of groundwater contamination from historical industrial activity.
The Cooks River Alliance, is a partnership of councils from Bayside, Canterbury-Bankstown, Inner West, and Strathfield, has been in place since 1997. The Alliance works with communities for a healthy Cooks River catchment. The Alliance with funding from the NSW Government, will develop a scoping study for a Cooks River Catchment Coastal Management Plan. It will be developed under the NSW coastal management framework with priorities actions for the Cooks River.
The Georges River flows north through the Western City District, before it turns south east at Chipping Norton towards Botany Bay. Its catchment flows through a varied landscape from the steep heavily wooded upper reaches near Appin to the urban areas of the lower reaches in the South District. Woronora Dam, on the upper reaches of the Woronora River, a tributary of the Georges River, is located in the Sutherland Council area.
Woronora Dam is within the Georges River catchment and is part of Greater Sydney’s drinking water supply network.