The Bayside council area is a water land, surrounded and bisected by creeks, rivers and wetlands. The Georges River forms the southern boundary and the Cooks River divides the council area in two. A string of remnant wetlands runs south from the Cooks to the Georges while another set of wetlands, connected by an aquifer to Centennial Park, runs north east from the airport.

How is the health of our waterways monitored?

Bayside Council conducts water quality monitoring to detect changes in the health of the natural environment. The most recent study, measured a range of parameters at 17 sites in the Bayside Council area over a 12 month period. The results were compared against previous studies, relevant national guidelines and other comparable urban streams within Sydney. The results showed that Bayside's creeks, rivers and wetlands are effected by urban runoff, stormwater, sewage overflows, feertiliser usage and the legacy of former landfill sites.

In addition to Bayside Council’s monitoring program, water quality in the Cooks and Georges Rivers is monitored year-round as part of a number river health projects. Data from these studies is used to prioritise restoration actions to improve water quality and riparian vegetation. The rivers are assessed on:

  • Water quality (for example oxygen content, dissolved solids and turbidity);
  • Quality and quantity of plants on the banks of creeks; and
  • Number and types of animals in the water (macro invertebrates).

These results of these studies cn be found here:

How is Bayside Council managing our waterways?

At Scarborough Ponds, Council has installed aerators and a floating reed bed to reduce the occurrence of temperature stratification, anoxic conditions and fish kills. A number of other pollution control devices have been put in place, including:

  • Litter Booms: A floating boom with a hanging mesh skirt, across channels or creeks to collect floating rubbish or suspended pollutants.
  • Trash Racks: A series of metal bars across a channel or pipe, trap large litter and debris such as plastic bottles, cans, leaves and branches.
  • Litterguard Devices: A wire 'basket' installed in stormwater pits to capture leaves, silt, litter and other pollutants.
  • Sediment Traps: A sump or pond built within a waterway that traps coarse sediment, often used in conjunction with a trash rack.
  • Gross Pollutant Traps (GPTs): Large 'in-line', below ground devices within a stormwater pipe. As well as removing litter and sediments, GPTs help remove pollutants such as heavy metals and organic compounds which are carried by finer sediments.

What can I do to improve our waterways?

Unlike wastewater from the kitchen and bathroom which flows through the sewerage system, every time it rains, stormwater flows from our roofs, yards and streets down the stormwater drain and into our rivers, creeks, wetlands and eventually in to Botany Bay.

Preventing stormwater pollution is easy. Follow the tips below and help keep litter and liquid waste out of our drains and waterways.

  1. Use a broom to sweep up leaves and grassNatural material like leaves and garden clippings can harm our waterways. As they build up in the stormwater system, they absorb the oxygen in the water, killing plants, fish and other animals that live in or alongside waterways. By sweeping your driveways instead of hosing them down, and disposing of the leaves/grass in your green bin or composting them, you'll be keeping stormwater clean as well as saving water.

  2. Put rubbish in the binMillions of cigarette butts are dropped on the ground in streets, beaches and parks every day. Rain and wind carry the butts into the stormwater system, and through to our creeks, rivers, wetlands and bays. Cigarette butts not only pollute and damage our waterways, they also endanger birds, fish and other marine life. Even whales have been found with cigarette butts in their stomachs! Always put your cigarette butts and other litter in the bin. If there isn't a bin available, hold onto your rubbish until you find one. 

  3. Clean up after your dogDog droppings left on footpaths or in parks can wash into our waterways, where they increase the level of bacteria making waterways unsafe for swimming.

  4. Wash your car on the lawnWhen you wash your car on the street or in your driveway, you're washing detergents, mud, oil and grease directly into our stormwater system. All of these substances build up and pollute our waterways. Detergents that contain phosphates also over-fertilise the water, which can lead to a build-up of toxic algae. Move your car onto the grass in your yard before you wash it, and try to use an 'environmentally friendly' detergent that will 'biodegrade' (that is, break down) in the natural environment. If you don't have a lawn visit a friend or relative who does, or go to the local car wash.

  5. Reduce fertiliser use and prevent soil run off. Heavy rain creates runoff from your property. Uncovered soil can wash into the stormwater system creating turbidity and silting up creeks and rivers. Chemicals you put on your garden such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides will also run off in heavy rain creating stormwater pollution. To help prevent run off, mulch bare soil (this will also help keep the moisture in the soil) and reduce or stop using fertilisers and chemicals or time their use for dry periods. Nitrates from fertilisers and dog droppings are one of the biggest polluters of our creeks and rivers.

  6. Dispose of chemicals and oils correctly. Never pour oil, paint or chemicals down the drain or into the gutter, either way they'll end up in the nearest river and eventually the ocean. Water based paint brushes can be washed over the lawn. Wash brushes used with oil based paints in a container and then dispose of the liquid through a collection service or chemical drop off. Bayside Council and the NSW EPA run regular chemical and waste collection services.

  7. Install a rainwater tank or raingardenBy collecting rainwater in a tank for reuse at your place or filtering it through a raingarden before it goes out to the street, you can save water and prevent silt and other pollutants from entering the stormwater system.

What about sewage pollution?

Unfortunately most of Sydney's waterways are polluted with sewage to some degree. Sewage leaks or overflows into urban creeks after rain for a variety of reasons including; illegal stormwater connections, faulty joints and cracked pipes, aged and failing infrastructure including 'pop tops'. In some parts of Sydney, older sewerage pipes were actually designed to overflow into the stormwater system when flow capacity was reached. 

Popping the pipe: how sewage gets out into the environment

How do I report a water pollution event or an incident?

  • Pollution in stormwater drains, creeks and other waterways or soil and sediment coming from building sites -  call Council on 1300 581 299.
  • Sewer overflows from a sewer main or manhole - call Sydney Water 13 20 90
  • Pollution from a State or public authority or large premises - call the NSW Environmental Protection Agency 13 15 55

Important information to provide when making the report includes:

  • Location;
  • Time and date of the incident;
  • What it looks and smells like;
  • Whether you witnessed the pollution incident first hand;
  • Your contact details.


Builders and developers have a legal obligation* not to pollute stormwater systems. Sand, soil, cement slurry, paint and other building materials that enter our waterways kill fish and aquatic plants, silt up streams and block stormwater pipes, leading to increased flooding. Due to the high number of construction sites, even small amounts of pollution from each site is enough to cause significant damage to our waterways.

Bayside Council and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) can issue notices and penalties on building and construction sites to protect the environment. There are three kinds of notices - Clean Up Notices, Prevention Notices and Prohibition Notices, and Council and the EPA keep a public register of all companies and individuals who are issued notices.

In addition, there are three levels of offences that apply to building and construction sites if they pollute the environment. Tier Three offences are dealt with by the issuing of a penalty infringement notice (similar to a speeding fine). Tier Two offences have a maximum penalty of $250,000 for a corporation and $120,000 for an individual.

A Tier One offence, for serious environmental harm, could result in seven years imprisonment and a penalty of up to $1 million. 

If you would like to ensure you are managing your development, the right way, click 'Do It Right On-Site'. 

Sediment and Erosion Control

Uncontrolled stormwater discharges from urban catchments have significant harmful effects upon the environmental health and amenity of creeks, rivers, wetlands, groundwater systems, estuaries and lagoons.

Disturbance of soil for building, construction and landscaping can cause pollution if not managed correctly. Bayside Council requires the implementation of controls for solid and water management for developments, as outlined in the Part 3G of the[JB4]  Development Control Plans for Bayside West and Bayside East.

Regional Alliances

Bayside Council is part of a number of regional Council alliances which have been instrumental in developing projects and policies, accessing funding and providing a platform for regional advocacy on key environmental issues to help protect the Council’s environment.  The success of many environmental projects are regional issues and depend on a continuing and enhancing the partnership between Council and the wider community.

Cooks River Alliance

The Cooks River Alliance is a partnership of four councils Bayside, Inner West, Canterbury-Bankstown and Strathfield Councils who are working together in partnerships with communities for a healthy Cooks River Catchment. Read more about the Cooks River Health report card.

Sydney Coastal Councils Group

The Sydney Coastal Councils Group (SCCG) consists of 9 Councils adjacent to Sydney marine and estuarine environments and associated waterways. Member Councils include: Bayside, Inner West, Northern Beaches, North Sydney, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, Willoughby and Woollahra. SCCG works in collaboration and provides support to Member Councils on environmental issues and sustainable management of the urban coastal environment.

Georges River Combined Council Committee

The Georges River Combined Council Committee (GRCCC) consists of nine local councils inclusive of Georges River (Council), Canterbury-Bankstown, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Liverpool, Bayside, Sutherland, and Wollondilly. Additional member list also includes agencies and community representatives within the Georges River catchment. The GRCCC's mission is to advocate for the protection, conservation and enhancement of the health of the Georges River, by developing programs and partnerships, and by lobbying government organisations and other stakeholders. Read more about the Georges River Health report card.

Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils

The Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) is an association of eleven municipal and city councils (Inner West, Canterbury-Bankstown, Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Sydney Georges River, Randwick Sutherland, Waverley and Woollahra). SSROC provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between member councils, and an interface between governments, other councils and key bodies on issues of common interest.

Water Management Strategy

Council has developed a water management strategy including an action plan and goals to drive water management over the next 10 years.

Waterways and wetlands form the heart of the Bayside, supporting important ecosystems and community activities.

Some waterways have been significantly modified since colonisation and urbanisation but they are valued by the community for the recreation and environmental benefits they provide.

"It is important to ensure Bayside's waterways and foreshores are healthy and the community is actively engaged in the management of our water resources," Mayor Joe Awada said.

"This strategy is an opportunity to get involved and help shape how we use water to 2030 and beyond."

Council is determined to face the crucial water management challenges to make sure local waterways remain in good health.

The strategy has been developed to respond to future challenges and steer Council’s decisions regarding water management.