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Georges River Coastal Zone Management Plan

UPDATE: The Georges River Coastal Zone Management Plan July 2013 is now finalised. This Plan has been adopted by GRCCC member Councils. It was certified by the NSW Environment Minister on the 5th March 2015 and gazetted on 10 July 2015. The plan is a statutory planning document that needs to be considered under Section 79C of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, 1979.

The CZMP can be viewed a number of ways:

The Georges River Coastal Zone Management Plan sets the strategic framework for the future management, over a period of 5-10 years of the Georges River estuary and also includes an action plan. The plan aims to conserve and improve the existing natural environment of the estuary and improve water quality. Under the EP&A Act, 1979, CZMPs are to be taken into consideration in determining development proposals under Section 79C. This has implications for development assessment decisions as the plan is relevant to proposals that may have an impact on the Georges River.  

The plan applies to all estuarine waters of the Georges River extending from Liverpool Weir to Towra Point. This includes the river foreshores, Botany Bay foreshores and all tidal waters that flow into the Georges River. The plan also applies to the Georges River catchment and identifies actions in the catchment that impact on the River.

Background to the GRCZMPTaren Point

Since 2011 the GRCCC has embarked on the development of Coastal Zone Management Plan (GRCZMP) for the Georges River. The GRCZMP study area extends from Liverpool Weir to Botany Bay, with Towra Point and the Cooks River to the north forming the eastern boundary. The study area comprises tidal waterways, bays, foreshores and adjacent lands of the Georges River and its major tributaries, as well as parts of Botany Bay’s foreshore up to the Cooks River and all tidal waters such as Scarborough Park Ponds that drain into the study area.  

The Georges River Estuary Management Committee / Cluster (EMC) includes Councillors and technical officers from Hurstville, Rockdale, Kogarah, Liverpool, Sutherland, Bankstown and Fairfield Councils. In addition the EMC includes several community representatives and agency staff from the Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, NPWS, the NSW Department of Primary Industry, Roads and Maritime Services and the Department of Lands.

The draft GRCZMP prepared by BMT WBM Pty Ltd has undergone extensive review by relevant stakeholders, Council and government agencies, as facilitated through the GRCCC and the Georges River EMC.

The Plan was placed on public exhibition between March and April 2013 at all participating Council offices.

Public comments were collated by the GRCCC and issued to the EMC for review and then to BMT WBM for incorporation into the plan. The Final Plan (with public comments incorporated) has been issued to partner Councils and was adopted by all participating member Councils.

The Data Compilation and Estuary Processes study collates all relevant resource information and defines the baseline conditions of the various estuarine processes (physical, biological and chemical) and the interactions between them, as well as possible impacts from human uses to enable management options to be meaningfully considered based on the best possible science.

All actions within an adopted CZMP are eligible for grant funding up to 50% of the total cost through the NSW Government’s Estuary Management Program.  Actions within a Management Plan receive top priority when compared with Councils applying for grants who have no estuary management plan.

The Georges River Estuary Management Plan will allow councils to:Georges River Estuary

  • Protect important coastal habitats, features and heritage items;
  • Rehabilitate degraded areas;
  • Improve public access and amenity;
  • Accomodate sustainable population growth and resource utilisation;
  • Obtain funding to carry out works;
  • Prioritise what needs to be done to better manage the estuary;
  • Gain community support and acceptance on managing the estuary;
  • Enhance cooperation between councils, agencies and stakeholders.

Why do we need an Estuary Management Plan?

The estuary is divided into two regions: Upper Reaches, the beginning of the estuary from Liverpool weir to Salt Pan Creek; and Lower Reaches, Salt Pan Creek to Botany Bay.  Major tidal tributaries to the estuary are, Cabramatta Creek, Prospect Creek, Salt Pan Creek, and Woronora River.  The Georges River Estuary catchment area covers a significant portion of the Greater Metropolitan Region, which is home to more than a million people. The land surrounding the estuary is highly urbanised and supports many land uses including: Army firing rang, market gardens, agriculture, mining, industrial manufacturing landfills and nuclear research facilities. The lower reach of the Georges River estuary has been completely modified and residential development extends to the foreshore in most locations.  The estuary is also a popular recreational area for many people in the surrounding communities for fishing, waterskiing, and swimming.

The major sources of pollution to the Georges River Estuary are stormwater run off from urban areas including roads and open spaces, wet weather sewer overflows, past contamination of land and sediment, and stormwater run off from rural lands.  These sources put metals, oils, grease, toxic organic compounds and high levels of nutrients in the river. Contaminants found in bottom sediments have resulted in commercial and recreational fishing bans in the lower reaches.  An oyster industry continues to operate in Botany Bay near Woolooware Bay, however such industries in the upper reaches of the river stopped due to oyster disease.  In addition, poor water quality after heavy rains compromises swimming and boating activities.  Increased runoff from impervious surfaces, the removal of upland swamps, groundwater extractions and past dredging have modified the volume and pattern of the river flows. 

Wetlands exist along much of the river but the size of wetland locations have decreased over the past 10 years.  Floodplain wetlands are found in the middle reaches of the river and in the major tributaries.  Estuarine wetlands are found in the lower reaches of the river, including Towra Point wetlands which are of international significance.  The overall ecology of the estuary area has been modified by the urbanization of the area, causing a decrease in native flora and fauna communities.

Background of the Estuary Management Committee

The GRCCC was founded in 1979 and consists of nine councils: Bankstown, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hurstville, Liverpool, and Rockdale City Councils, Kogarah Council, and Sutherland and Wollondilly Shire Councils, with the underlined councils forming part of the estuary sub-committee. 

The NSW Estuary Management Policy has been created to achieve an integrated, balanced, responsible and ecologically sustainable use of the State's estuaries. The policy aims to promote cooperation between the NSW Government, Local Government, Catchment Management Authorities, landholders and estuary users in the development and implementation of Estuary Management Plans for each estuary throughout NSW. The estuary management process is outlined in the Estuary Management Manual (NSW Government, 1992) and in summary the process consists of eight steps as follows:

  1. Form an Estuary Management Committee;
  2. Assemble, compile and interpret existing data;
  3. Carry out Estuary Processes Study;
  4. Carry out Estuary Management Study;
  5. Draft Estuary Management Plan (now the GRCZMP);
  6. Review the Plan;
  7. Adopt and implement GRCZMP;
  8. Monitor and review.