The waterways of the Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River catchment represent an enormously significant recreational, scenic and economic resource for the people of Sydney. The catchment includes the central business district of Sydney, and the significant commercial districts of North Sydney and Parramatta.
Current uses and environmental values for the Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River system include maintaining healthy ecosystems, recreation (including swimming, boating, fishing and aesthetics) and commercial activities (such as commercial shipping and tourism). There is very limited extraction of fresh water, or reuse of stormwater (as is occurring at the Olympic site at Homebush Bay and adjacent village, usually for irrigation of golf courses or parks).
Because of the extent of development, waterways are affected by poor water quality and a changed flow regime. The waterways have been greatly modified, with channels built in creek systems or hard-edged with concrete. Wetlands have been destroyed or degraded and, where natural remnants of vegetation exist, they are often affected by weeds and rubbish.
Management of the waterways of this catchment is a complex issue, with many State, local government and community organisations having an interest. Key stakeholders include:
- several government agencies (such as the Department of Planning & Environment and Roads & Maritime)
- the local councils within the catchment
- Sydney Water
- the community, including business and local citizens.
River Flow Objectives
- maintain or restore the natural inundation patterns and distribution of floodwaters supporting natural wetland and floodplain ecosystems
- maintain groundwater within natural levels and variability, critical to surface flows and ecosystems
- minimise effects of weirs and other in-stream structures
- maintain or rehabilitate estuarine processes and habitats.