In finalising this Georges River - Botany Bay Inquiry, the Commission has completed the picture of river and bay health for the three river systems (the Hawkesbury Nepean, Shoalhaven and Woronora), that provide water to the Sydney metropolitan area. The Commission has found that the health of each of these rivers is affected, to varying degrees, by water extraction, sewage and stormwater discharge, urban and rural development.
It has become clear that if river health is to be optimised whilst preserving the many uses that the catchment communities expect of their watercourses, the three river systems cannot be managed in isolation from each other. Likewise, key elements of the water cycle must be managed across the metropolitan area in an integrated way. Stormwater and sewage effluent must no longer be thought of as ‘wastewater’ but as a valuable resource and part of the total water cycle available to improve river health and ameliorate demand on supply for the wider Sydney region. The Commission has devised strategies and recommendations to improve river health, taking into account the expectations and needs of the diverse and growing community.