Let’s take a closer look at the key developments, milestones and initiatives that have shaped Georges Riverkeeper’s actions in the past financial year, 2022/23.
Georges Riverkeeper Program Manager's Report
Georges Riverkeeper has commenced the implementation of the first year of our Strategic Plan 2022 to 2026 and made significant strides throughout a very challenging year with reduced team capacity and limited resources. The loss of two members of a five-person team within six months has not been easy, but the team has banded together to deliver for our Member Councils and partners under difficult circumstances.
In partnership with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Georges Riverkeeper was successful in delivering a ‘Litter Prevention Strategy’ for the Georges River catchment. In addition, the team successfully implemented the final milestones of the ‘Zero Litter in Georges River’ Environmental Restoration Fund Grant with our Member Councils, despite requiring a time extension due to extreme weather events.
Georges Riverkeeper were also successful in securing financial support from Member Councils to further progress the Georges River Catchment Coastal Management Program: Stages 2 - 4 through Coastal and Estuary Grants. It would not have been possible for Georges Riverkeeper to achieve this without the generous hosting arrangement with Sutherland Shire Council. The Georges Riverkeeper team and Executive Group would like to say a huge thank you to the whole Sutherland Shire Council team for their invaluable input and support.
Georges Riverkeeper Program Manager
Georges Riverkeeper's Catchment Action Program aims to enhance the quality of life around the Georges River by bolstering its amenity, aesthetics, biodiversity, and ecosystem functions.
We all hate to see litter in our waterways. Not only does it detract from the natural appeal, but it endangers wildlife and harbours dangerous chemicals. Through Georges Riverkeeper’s Litter Collection Program, 91 tonnes of litter were removed from the Georges River catchment this year. That equates to over 5,900 large garbage bags of litter removed before it could cause further damage to the Georges River and its catchment.
Co-ordinated through Georges Riverkeeper’s Catchment Actions Program, litter collection teams from Corrective Services NSW head out to parks, beaches, creeks, river foreshores and industrial areas seven days a week. Thanks to the support of our Member Councils, the program continues to expand with the addition of eight new litter collection sites in 2022/2023.
In 2022/2023 Georges Riverkeeper worked on behalf of, and in consultation with Member Councils to develop a ‘Litter Prevention Strategy’ for the Georges River catchment. Input was also received from community organisations such as So-Shire and Conservation Volunteers Australia.
The strategy’s development is a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy. The strategy will be a guide for future action on preventing litter that Member Councils, Georges Riverkeeper, and others can utilise to prevent litter entering the catchment.
The Georges River catchment boasts much biodiversity, yet urbanization threatens some of it. Georges Riverkeeper collaborates with Member Councils and stakeholders to help protect this biodiversity.
In the ongoing partnership with Fairfield City Council and NSW Corrective Services this year, we enhanced seven endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland sites. Volunteers contributed 1,400 hours, removing invasive weeds, enabling native plants to flourish.
Additionally, Georges Riverkeeper, in conjunction with the City of Canterbury Bankstown, completed an $11,000 grant project targeting the invasive Balloon Vine which is choking native riparian vegetation along Prospect Creek. This Project has been assisted by the NSW DPI Fisheries’ Recreational Fishing Trust’s “Habitat Action Grant Program”.
Our commitment to the long-term shorebird monitoring project with the Australian Waders Studies Group and Local Land Services continues. Migratory shorebirds, some from as far as Alaska, inhabit the lower estuary of the Georges River annually. Sadly, some of these species face extinction. In 2022/2023, Georges Riverkeeper extended predator-free roosting habitat by 20 meters to support these birds.
River Health and Research
The River Health & Research Program collects environmental data to guide waterway management.
Georges Riverkeeper’s River Health Monitoring Program was established in 2009 using scientifically rigorous methods to monitor freshwater tributaries and estuarine sections of the Georges River. The information from this monitoring is communicated to Member Councils and facilitates efficient and effective management of resources and waterway improvements.
River health data is also used to communicate the relative condition of the waterways of the Georges River catchment to the broader community.
In 2022/2023 Georges Riverkeeper published the 2022 River Health Report Card. Results showed some improvements in water quality compared to the previous report card, with grades within the Prospect Creek catchment improving. However, overall health grades were slightly lower than previously reported, with higher levels of rainfall and flooding in the catchment potentially affecting the results.
This year Georges Riverkeeper assisted the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) in developing their new water quality objectives, with our extensive water quality dataset providing valuable input in developing guidelines for coastal rivers and estuaries.
Georges Riverkeeper also monitors microplastics in the river. Australian Microplastics Assessment Project (AUSMAP) methods were used to assess microplastic pollution across ten shorelines throughout the Georges River catchment in 2022/2023. Results from this sampling were lower than previous years, but still quite concerning in some locations. For example, 153 microplastics were identified and analysed in one 0.25m2 quadrat sample on the Chipping Norton Lake foreshore.
In an urban catchment like the Georges River, there is an ever-present risk of harmful pollutants entering waterways. Georges Riverkeeper assists in monitoring pollution incidents within the catchment’s waterways in collaboration with Member Councils and relevant agencies. In 2022/2023 this included monitoring of Blue Green Algae levels after an outbreak in Chipping Norton Lakes. Georges Riverkeeper worked with Water NSW and Fairfield City Council to keep the community informed and monitor the situation. In addition, Georges Riverkeeper contributed data to NSW EPA and NSW Primary Industries - Fisheries following mangrove dieback at Kurnell that has been associated with an oil spill incident.
The Research Program was established in 2018 to improve our knowledge of the impacts of urbanisation on our rivers and contribute to our understanding of best practice waterway management for a livable urban river. This year we assisted a Macquarie University PhD student project focused on investigating differences in carbon decomposition between natural and restored saltmarshes.
Working with the University of Newcastle and The Nature Conservancy, Georges Riverkeeper assisted with a project investigating migratory shorebird use of mudflats that contain remnant oyster reefs. The results of which will inform future shellfish reef restoration projects in the Georges River estuary and elsewhere.
Stormwater and Sewage
Georges Riverkeeper’s Stormwater Program has now expanded to include sewage, another major source of pollution within the Georges River catchment.
As stormwater and sewerage infrastructure is the responsibility of either individual councils or Sydney Water (both of which work with Georges Riverkeeper), our goal is to have a marked impact on point source pollution to improve the water quality of the Georges River and its tributaries.
Get The Site Right
‘Get the Site Right’ is a joint taskforce between local councils, Georges Riverkeeper, Cooks River Alliance, Parramatta River Catchment Group, Sydney Coastal Councils Group, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), and Water NSW.
A week-long blitz was held in Oct. 2022 and a month-long campaign was held in May. 2023. Members of the public are encouraged to report environmental and stormwater pollution incidents, including poor sediment control to their local council or via the NSW EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.
Georges River Catchment Coastal Management Program
Over the last year Georges Riverkeeper has led progress on this project in consultation with the Georges River Catchment Coastal Management Program Project Control Group which includes representatives from all Member Councils. Georges Riverkeeper has now completed the Stage 1 Scoping Study and the accompanying report has been accepted by the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE).
Georges Riverkeeper is now working closely with Member Councils to move through the next stages of the project by hosting presentations by DPE representatives to highlight the benefits of a Coastal Management Program (CMP) and by facilitating site inspections within individual local government areas to promote a whole of catchment approach for this CMP.
Georges Riverkeeper were recently successful in confirming continued support and financial contributions from Member Councils for Stages 2 to 4. Georges Riverkeeper and DPE representatives worked collaboratively on an Expression of Interest (EOI) which has been provided via open market to consultants to ascertain interest and their experience in the development of a CMP. Assessments of these EOI’s are continuing with the assistance of Sutherland Shire Councils Procurement team and will soon be complete.
Education and Capacity Building
The goal of the Education and Capacity Building Program is to develop and disseminate educational materials and provide opportunities to foster a shared understanding of issues and solutions for environmental management of the Georges River, its waterways and catchment.
Georges Riverkeeper uses this website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, quarterly e-news and media relations to ensure the community can enjoy the river, learn about the river and help the river. Campaigns during the year focused on ‘Zero Litter in Georges River’, ‘Plastic Free July’, #EnjoyTheRiver, ‘Get the Site Right’, and ‘Clean Up Australia Day’. Promotions resulted in 1,325 factsheet downloads, 250 Georges River Report Card 2021-2022 downloads, and 269 education module downloads and google site visits
Events and education
- Westfield Hurstville ‘SeaSustainability’, Aug. 2022.
- Hazelhurst Regional Arts Centre ‘FutureFest’ (Sustainability), Aug. 2022.
- Promotion of Stage 3 education resources to teachers for Science Week, Aug. 2022.
- 1st Wearne Bay Sea Scouts Group, Sept. 2022.
- Sutherland Shire Bushcare Fair, Sept. 2022.
- Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre ‘WOW Festival’, Sept. 2022.
- Fairfield City Council ‘Litter in Creeks Workshop’, Sept. 2022.
- St George’s Fishing Club, Oct. 2022.
- Conservation Volunteers Australia ‘Walk & Talk at Tonbridge Creek’, Nov. 2022.
- Liverpool Environmental Advisory Committee, Jun. 2023.
- ‘World Environment Day’ bush walk and talk with Campbelltown City Council Bushcare, Jun. 2023.
- Conservation Volunteers Australia ‘#seatosource National Day of Action’, Feb. 2023.
- Paddle Against Plastic, Mar. 2023.
- ‘Bugwatch’ with Lady of Mercy Catholic College Burraneer, Mar. 2023.
- Georges River Environment Education Centre showed Georges Riverkeeper education videos to approx. 5,098 students.
- Sept. 2022: ‘Urban Plunge – making our waterways swimmable’, with Nerida Taylor and Michelle Washington, Sydney Water.
- Dec. 2022: ‘Water Quality, what is it good for?’ with Marion Huxley, Georges Riverkeeper; Jocelyn Dela-Cruz, Department of Planning and Environment (DPE); and Mathew Misdale, Campbelltown City Council.
- Mar. 2023: ‘Riverine and Coastal Erosion’ with Craig Naughton, City of Canterbury Bankstown; Colin Mable, Bayside Council; and Jason Bishop, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services.
- Jun. 2023: ‘Cutting Edge Investigations into Litter in our Waterways and Gross Pollutant Traps’ with Justine Barrett, CSIRO; and Ben Wolfgramm, Australian Wetlands Consulting Pty Ltd.
If you’re a Member of Georges Riverkeeper you can view recordings of the webinars
Operations Management Program
The Operations Management Program encompasses the overall operations of the organisation and includes governance, advocacy and lobbying, reporting, and management
In 2022/23, Georges Riverkeeper was pleased to welcome Sydney Water as a financial partner, allowing for more substantial collaboration between our two organisations.
This year Georges Riverkeeper held four in-person General Committee Meetings and one Annual General Meeting. These were generously hosted by various Member Councils on a roster system. In addition, nine Executive Group Meetings were held to progress vital operational matters, programs, projects, and grants in between General Committee Meetings.