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Riverkeeper Report Card released: shows 115+ tonnes of rubbish removed across the Georges River

11 Sep 2012

The 2011-2012 Georges Riverkeeper Report Card has been released. The results show why the program was recognised by Keep Australia Beautiful in 2011 as NSW’s best environmental and waste management initiative.

The Report Card demonstrates catchment-scale cleanup and bush regeneration results of the Georges Riverkeeper program for the year. The program removed a staggering 115,393 kgs of rubbish from the catchment between July 2011 and June 2012.

Since 1999, the Riverkeeper program has provided on-ground cleanup and restoration works to minimise the impact of urbanisation on the Georges River.
 
The program is run by the Georges River Combined Councils Committee (GRCCC) which is an association of 9 local government councils within the Georges River Catchment. These councils recognise they have a collective responsibility for the health of the Georges River Catchment and so jointly fund the Riverkeeper Program to undertake on ground works in key areas along the river.

The two main focus areas for the program are to 1) remove rubbish (gross pollutants) from the river foreshores, creeks and tributaries which enter via the conventional stormwater into the river, or as a result of illegal dumping and littering and 2) increase the biodiversity of remnant bushland and riparian (river bank) vegetation through the targeted removal of weeds, revegetation and natural regeneration.

The Riverkeeper program works regularly with teams from volunteer organisations such as the National Parks Association, school groups and other community groups to perform bush regeneration and rubbish collection. The GRCCC also partners with Corrective Services NSW in the program and uses work teams comprised of individuals on Intensive Correction Orders required to perform community service. The Riverkeeper Program also conducted a large-scale Clean Up Australia project with over 20 volunteers from Liverpool SES and the community to remove 1 tonne of rubbish off Bolga Gong Island in Chipping Norton Lakes.

In the 2011-12 financial year the Riverkeeper rubbish collection teams worked at 103 sites across the Georges River and collecting 115,393 kgs of rubbish. Bush regeneration teams have worked to improve bushland across over 27,000m2 of foreshore bushland

Bernie Murphy, Acting CEO at Keep Australia Beautiful NSW praised the program for its targeted, results-focused delivery.
 
“The Georges Riverkeeper Program is an excellent example of councils, agencies and communities working together towards a shared environmental goal. The flora, fauna and biodiversity of the Georges River catchment is unique, and like all metropolitan river systems consistent care and monitoring are required if the river is to support life into the future.”

“The 2011/12 Riverkeeper Report Card again highlights that the councils and communities within the catchment are hands-on in their approach,” said Mr Murphy.

The Riverkeeper program works closely with several state government agencies. These include the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Estuary Management Program and Corrective Services NSW.

The GRCCC is an incorporated association of nine local government councils working in partnership with state and federal government agencies and community representatives within the Georges River catchment. It represents local government in the Georges River catchment of NSW.  Member councils include Bankstown City, Campbelltown City, Fairfield City, Hurstville City, Kogarah City, Liverpool City, Rockdale City, Sutherland Shire and Wollondilly Shire councils. The GRCCC is proudly hosted by Hurstville City Council, 2009-2012.

For a copy of the Report Card visit www.georgesriver.org.au. You can also click the following link to the e-book version http://www.georgesriver.org.au/Riverkeeper-Program.html

For more information on the program, or to volunteer, please contact info@georgesriver.org.au


Frequently Asked Questions – Riverkeeper Program 2011-12

What does the Report Card show?
The Report Card shows catchment-scale program statistics in rubbish collection and bush regeneration undertaken by the Georges Riverkeeper Program. While the works are conducted at a local level, the statistics reflect achievements across three Georges River sub-catchments (Upper, Mid and Lower Georges River). The Report Card presents an overview of how rubbish and weeds impact the entire river system.

What can be done to prevent rubbish from being dumped?
Illegal dumping is a criminal offense under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997, and significant fines apply to those caught dumping. Catchment residents can anonymously report illegal dumpers by contacting council waste officers. Many councils offer expanded waste services to minimise illegal dumping; these include collection days for hard rubbish, chemicals and electronic waste.

What kinds of rubbish is typically found and removed?
A majority of the rubbish removed is plastics, including plastic bags, drink bottles, packaging and broken debris. Other kinds of rubbish removed includes dumped building and construction materials, green waste, milk crates, rubber tyres, furniture and household items, trolleys, mattresses and auto parts. Riverkeeper teams also remove micro-rubbish. Rubbish within the stormwater system is termed ‘gross pollutants.’

What is micro-rubbish?
Micro-rubbish is the term we use to describe the smallest gross pollutants in the system. It is characterised by the smallest pieces of rubbish (< 5mm) such as polystyrene, plastic bits, bottle tops and cigarette butts & lighters. Polystyrene used in packaging represents the most commonly found micro rubbish. The polystyrene breaks down into ever smaller pieces and mixes with organic materials (leaves, seaweed), and is consequently very difficult to remove from the river system. Micro-rubbish, ingested by seabirds and aquatic species has been recorded as a significant cause of mortality.

What else does the Riverkeeper Program do?
The Riverkeeper program continually supports the councils and agencies with which it partners. The Riverkeeper provides other services such as assisting GRCCC River Health Program staff with boat access for water quality monitoring; taking Council compliance staff on the river to access illegal riverfront developments and to conduct foreshore assessments; and coordinating volunteer cleanups such as those for Clean Up Australia Day and corporate cleanup days. The Riverkeeper is the ‘eyes and ears’ on the Georges River.

How can I help improve the health of the Georges River?
Catchment residents can get involved by joining their local council’s bushcare program and volunteering for Clean Up Australia Day activities. The Riverkeeper program also welcomes groups of interested community members who wish to participate in volunteer clean up days co-ordinated by the program and are encouraged to contact us via the website www.georgesriver.org.au or Facebook page “Georges River, NSW”. The program also encourages concerned citizens to report illegal activity to their local council.


Media Enquiries: David Kuhn, GRCCC at 9330 6010

ENDS


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