The Cooks River is set to get cleaner under a new strategy that aims to coordinate clean-up efforts across council, community, and local authorities to target litter at its source.
Earlier this week, the Inner West Council unanimously voted to endorse the new plan that aims to halve the amount of rubbish in the river by 2025. The motion was put forward by Ashfield ward Councillor Mark Drury and Marrickville ward Councillor Colin Hesse.
“What we have seen is an increasing awareness of the things we need to do to have those rivers improved for us and everything that relies on them,” Drury said.
“It’s the water going down these stormwater drains, that is a very key aspect of carrying litter into our rivers.”
The plan has been pioneered by the River Canoe Club; a Marrickville based community group. President of the group Simon Wilkes said the strategy is a milestone in the decades long clean-up effort of the Cooks.
“Everybody has been focused on pulling stuff out of the river, and cleaning it up, this [strategy] is actually trying to stop stuff going in there in the first place,” Wilkes told the Independent.
“There’s never been a coordinated effort, just a lot of ad hoc, really well-meaning efforts, but no one has ever pulled it all together.”
The strategy focuses on reducing the amount of litter right across the Cooks River catchment area and outlines a range of initiatives that local groups and councils can become involved in. It also includes a litter monitoring program.
In partnership with the Cooks River Alliance, the River Canoe Club secured a $90,000 community grant from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority late last year to fund the project. They say it will be crucial to securing funding into the future.
“It provides an overall direction for the whole catchment, which then enables a clear direction for everybody to work towards and attract funds…having a strategy unlocks funding opportunities,” Wilkes said.
The strategy is set to officially launch on November 14 once it has been finalised and endorsed by all local councils in the catchment area.
Marrickville ward Councillor Victor Macri is glad to see the river’s health improving from its lowest point in the 70s.
“In the 70s you couldn’t get near the river, because it stunk, it really did,” Macri said.
“It’s really a credit to everyone involved, from the Cooks River association to the Alliance, to the Canoe Club, the Mud Crabs, all the volunteer bushcare groups, all the clean ups – that we are slowing bringing the river back.”