SSEC logo Sutherland Shire Environment Centre  


The waterways of Sutherland Shire are its jewels. They wedge into the landform from the sea, separating urban developments and providing sought-after vistas and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors alike. The waterways are the Woronora River (below) and Georges River which merge and flow into Botany Bay, and the Hacking River which flows into Port Hacking.
The waterways exist in some of the most rapidly growing local government areas in Australia. Their catchments contain the homes of almost half of Sydney's population. Because of the demand for waterfront living, the foreshores of the rivers and estuaries and bays are subject to intense urbanising pressures. Environmentally unsustainable land development, including vegetation clearing, increased hard surface area, and unfiltered pollutants entering waterways through stormwater pipes - many replacing natural water courses - have contributed to the siltation of creeks, rivers, estuaries and bays, the disappearance of wetlands and seagrass beds, the reduction of water quality, and the reduction of biodiversity. As well, many bays have become crowded parking lots for water vessels and have lost any semblance of tranquillity and safety with the proliferation of noisy motorised vessels.

The Centre believes that:

  • Waterways are a public asset that should be managed for the public good. No part of a waterway should be relinquished for private gain unless there are significant and demonstrable social gains and no reduction in the environmental sustainability of the waterway. In this respect, the Centre believes the precautionary principle should be the predominant decider for development proposals.
  • Management of waterways should be carried out on an integrated basis. The Port Hacking Plan of Management provides an example of the many issues that should be considered in the management and development of a waterway. All government authorities with jurisdiction over the waterway or parts thereof should cooperate fully to bring about optimal and environmentally sustainable gains for the waterway.
  • Permitted uses of waterways should adequately consider the full range of users, including the requirements of native fauna in national parks and reservations. The desires of residents, foreshore picnickers, canoeists, surfers, swimmers, windsurfers and the like, for relatively quiet and safe waters, should be as important as the desires of users of highly mobile, motorised craft.

Improving the environmental sustainability of waterways has been high on the agenda of both local and state governments, and of many community-based groups. The Georges River Catchment Committee and the Hacking River Catchment Committee made a significant contribution to increased knowledge of the catchment and the parameters required to ensure appropriate management. The Centre is represented on the Southern Catchment Board and the South Sydney Catchment Board which have replaced the Catchment Committees in 2000 and are charged with the development of strategic plans for these catchments. The Centre is also represented on Sutherland Shire Council's Hacking Plan of Management Panel and works closely with community groups to improve waterways management.

To improve sustainable access to the waterways of the Shire and its bioregions, SSEC has partnered with Georges River Environmental Alliance (GREA) to create the Great Kai'mia Way.

Top of Page