Enhancing community access to the waterways within the District should be prioritised. This includes access for swimmers and pedestrians as well as boats and other watercraft. The delivery of the Greater Sydney Green Grid connections (refer to Planning Priority W15) will enhance connections to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River and the Georges River.
Legislation, policies and plans, are in place to improve the health of waterways and to manage water resources. For example, the Fisheries Management Act 1994 protects aquatic biodiversity and the Sydney Regional Environmental Plan No. 20 – Hawkesbury-Nepean River protects the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system by ensuring that the impacts of future land uses are considered in a regional context. 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 the management of public land.
The Metropolitan Water Plan 2017 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 NSW 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.
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.
The District Plan aims to integrate the objectives for waterways, which 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 provide 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.
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 implement sustainable urban water management approaches and encourage water sensitive urban design.
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 for the District.
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.
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 infrastructures.