The Healthy Rivers Commission’s independent and public Inquiry into the Georges River - Botany Bay system is part of the NSW Government's Water Reform Program1. As in its previous Inquiries, the Commission's role in this catchment is to assist the community to identify appropriate long-term river2 and bay health goals and the management strategies required to achieve them.
In a highly urbanised catchment such as this, river and bay ecosystems are significantly modified. The Commission's definition of river and bay health encompasses socio-economic factors as well as ecological ones - a healthy river is one that can support its ecological functions and those uses to which its community aspires. In this case, community goes beyond the people living and working in the Georges River - Botany Bay catchment. As the 'birthplace of modern Australia', as the major sea and air port, as the site of significant defence holdings, and as an area where almost half the people of metropolitan Sydney live, Botany Bay and its catchment span the interests of the city, and in some respects, the state and the nation. The challenge therefore, is to improve river and bay ecological health, whilst maintaining essential economic and social services to the catchment and wider community.