Photo credit: Noel Butcher


Implementing WSUD stormwater management systems to improve the health of the Parramatta River
T Nadesan
Publication Date (Web): 16 May 2016

The purpose of the Parramatta River Waterway Improvement Plan is to implement a series of integrated stormwater management projects that will help improve the ecological and social value of Parramatta River. Sydney Water manages significant stormwater infrastructure in the Parramatta River catchment. It has a significant influence over the river’s health and its tributaries along with councils and other land management authorities. The Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) is a group of councils, community groups and State government agencies, including Sydney Water, collaborating efforts to improve the urban waterway.     

In the 2016–2020 Sydney Water Capital Program, stormwater quality improvement has been proposed in accordance with the Parramatta River Coastal Zone Management Strategy. Sydney Water’s corporate values: ‘to care for one another, the environment and the community; to create new and better ways of doing things; and, having the customer at the heart’ have been another key driver for the Waterway Improvement Plan. Others include the Sydney Water Act, Operating License and Environment Plan, which require Sydney Water to sustainably operate, maintain and manage its stormwater infrastructure. Furthermore, the PRCG currently has an initiative called Our Living River to plan for the regular use of natural swimming locations throughout the river in the future.  

The Waterway Improvement Plan will involve the collaboration of Sydney Water with stakeholders to agree on project locations and, where partnerships need to be entered into, to gain the best value outcomes for the community. 

Sydney Water and Alluvium have developed 10 project options for the Parramatta River Waterway Improvement Plan. Projects will involve the use of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) to achieve the best possible water quality and liveability improvement for Parramatta River. The process involved:  

  1. Reviewing background information, including geospatial data;
  2. Meeting with council staff from across declared catchment areas to identify project opportunities and possible ongoing maintenance options in the future;
  3. Undertaking desktop analysis of the potential options, proposing and mapping out the locations and project sizes. These locations and projects were then reviewed by Sydney Water;
  4. Developing to initial concept stage 10 project options and undertaking a cost, risk and benefit review. 

With continued collaboration, the Parramatta River Waterway Improvement Plan has the potential to create industry capacity, promote similar works elsewhere and provide a foundation of knowledge and data that will support the integration of stormwater and wastewater management. 

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