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Cooks River Environmental Assessment and Education Program (CREAP)

Introduction

Cooks River - Saving the Cooks River logoAll the soil, chemicals, dog poo, litter, grass, leaves, cigarette butts, dust and dirt which washes down the drains in large parts of Bankstown, Canterbury, Marrickville, Rockdale, South Sydney and Hurstvillle and some parts of Strathfield, Ashfield, Burwood, Kogarah, Botany Bay, Auburn and Randwick local council areas ends up in the Cooks River.

When you consider that rubbish is getting dumped on top of over 150 years worth of other pollutants, it's little wonder the Cooks River is one of the most polluted and degraded river systems in Australia.

From where it rises in Bankstown to where it enters Botany Bay, the catchment of the river drains over 103 sq kms of land which is home to over 400,000 people and around 20,000 commercial and industrial premises. That is a lot of potential sources of pollution.

What hope is there of bringing the Cooks River to Life?

Plenty. There are already large stretches of the Cooks River that are coming to life thanks to the efforts of many enthusiastic individuals and community groups and government organisations over many years.

All of the major industries in the catchment must now treat their liquid waste before disposal through the sewer system. Many of the major stormwater drains now have basic treatment systems. This has all helped, but there is still a great deal to do.

When the 13 Cooks River Catchment Councils worked together on the development of the Cooks River Stormwater Management Plan one of the main issues they identified was the need for a community and industry focussed education/action plan.

When the opportunity came for the Cooks River Association of Councils to apply to the New South Wales Government's Stormwater Trust for funding of such a program they jumped at it.

The Stormwater Trust liked what they saw and approved a $1.3 million dollar grant, which was part of the government's commitment of over $60 million to help combat urban stormwater pollution.

What's the EA&E Project About?

Urban stormwater pollution is one of the most critical issues facing the health of our waterways. The Cooks River EA&E project is all about improving the quality of stormwater flowing into the Cooks River from all over the catchment.

The project is made up of two discrete, yet overlapping components. The first component is focusing on small to medium sized businesses in the catchment. Over the next few months around 2,000 local businesses will receive a visit from one of the project's environmental assessment officers. That officer will work with the business operators to identify what can be done to improve that business' environmental management performance.

It may be something as simple as the business keeping their waste disposal areas tidy or storing their used chemical drums properly. It may lead to the business fitting some specialist equipment. The bottom line for this component of the project will be a reduced business impact on the Cooks River.

The second component of the project is all about encouraging the general community to play their part. Newspaper and radio stories and advertising, banners, posters, billboards, community events, schools programs and a range of other activities including special programs designed for people of non English speaking backgrounds will all promote the message that 'Bringing the Cooks River to Life' is everyone's responsibility.

And That's Not All ! The industry assessment tools and the education materials developed during this program will be available to Councils and industry groups throughout NSW as they work on improving the quality of water in their own catchment and river systems.


Last Updated 17-Dec-2008