Georges River Combined Councils Committee (GRCCC), NSW - Urban Landcare Award
The Georges River Combined Councils Committee (GRCCC) has been nominated for a National Landcare Award for its role in facilitating an innovative community driven ecological assessment of the Georges River Catchment.
The GRCCC was formed in 1979 and now has a membership of nine councils: Bankstown, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hurstville, Liverpool, Rockdale, Kogarah, Sutherland and Wollondilly Shire.
Member councils work together through the committee to deliver environmental programs which recognise their collective responsibility for the health of the Georges River. The Georges River is one of Sydney’s primary natural assets due to ecological aesthetic and recreational values. The catchment covers an area of approximately 960km², and is one of the most highly urbanised in Australia. Rising in the Wollondilly Shire the river stretches 96km throughout south west Sydney and meets the sea at Botany Bay.
Like most rivers across the country the main issues impacting the Georges River include stormwater and urban runoff, litter pollution, loss of vegetation and industrial discharge. However, although a large portion of the catchment is urbanised, approximately 45% remains covered in bushland.
The GRCCC’s Community River Health Monitoring Program plays a leading role in regional collaborative catchment management, with strong partnerships formed between local government, natural resource management agencies and community groups. The project is a centrally coordinated aquatic ecosystem monitoring program which facilitates a coordinated whole of catchment approach to natural resource management.
Between 2009 and 2011 over 400 volunteers from more 17 community groups and numerous schools committed in excess of 1,700 hours of participation to the GRCCC Community River Health Program. Volunteers are provided with the opportunity to work alongside GRCCC’s team of ecologists to monitor the ecological condition of the river by collecting and analysing data on three river health indicators - water quality, vegetation condition and stream macro invertebrates. Data collected by the program is used to produce ‘River Health Report Cards’ showing a catchment scale snap-shot of river health. Through council websites and local media agencies results for monitoring have the potential to reach the over one million people who live within the catchment.
The results for the project are used by councils and natural resource managers at various levels of government a catchment wide snaps shot of river health and to raise awareness and inform decision making to improve water quality and vegetation condition. The program also provides an understanding of the broader implications for Botany Bay, into which the Georges River flows, assisting in the identification of target areas and priority actions in relation to on-ground works.
The Georges River Combined Councils Committee is one of 88 finalists in the National Landcare Awards to be announced in Sydney on 4th September, 2012. Commencing in 1991, the Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and groups that make a valuable contribution to the land and coast where they live and work.