Agreement protects the health of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River
The agreement highlights the role of HEN's Hawkesbury River Waterkeeper who will provide independent and scientifically informed monitoring of river health and assist with community-based responses and remediation.
Although there have been some gains in recent years, the health of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River system continues to be under significant pressure from a range of impacts, including mining, agriculture, tourism and urban development.
The role of HEN and the Hawkesbury River Waterkeeper forms part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global movement of community based organisations employing on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect over 100,000 miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in North and South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.
Founded in 1999, by environmental attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and several veteran Waterkeepers, theWaterkeeper Alliance defends communities against anyone who threatens the right to clean water.
Professor Michael Jeffery, QC an environmental law specialist from the UWS School of Law, says it is imperative to protect the Hawkesbury-Nepean River as it provides water for the 4.13 million people living in Sydney and is a key driver of the region's natural ecosystem.
"In almost every part of the world, water resources are declining in quality and quantity and the need to protect our waterways has become clear," says Professor Jeffery.
"This unique partnership will bring a greater level of scientific rigour which will better inform local environmental groups of key threats and strategies and actions to improve the local environment as well as providing an educational sustainability platform for students and staff in the form of a living laboratory."
Professor Jeffery says, Alan Midgley, PhD candidate in the UWS School of Natural Science, will be the first Hawkesbury River Waterkeeper.
Mr Midgley will be responsible for patrolling 21,400 square kilometers of the river between Wisemans Ferry and the mouth of the Grose River which include some of the earliest areas of European settlement and agriculture in Australia.
Providing concerned members of the public with a point of contact will be a major focus for the Waterkeeper as well as liaising with members of HEN to utilise their local knowledge and expertise.
Professor Geoff Scott, Executive Director of Sustainability at UWS, says the partnership underpins the University's commitment to work with the community to promote environmental sustainability.
"UWS will draw on its expertise in sustainability and its strong connections in Greater Western Sydney to bring sustainability to life within the Hawkesbury Nepean River," says Professor Scott.