Georges River one of three finalists in the ‘Olympics of the environment’
The highly urbanised Georges River is one of three finalists in the Australian Riverprize, the largest prize for environmental achievement in the country. Following a competitive application process comprised of wide selection of applicants, the Georges River has been named as the only finalist from NSW.
Applications are judged by a panel of seven experts who assess a range of criteria that takes into account evidence of river management frameworks, long term vision, integration of sustainability concerns and on-ground achievements relating to overall river health.
The Australian Riverprize is awarded annually in recognition and support of those who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river basin management. The prize is valued at $200,000 and consists of $150,000 in cash prizes and a $50,000 grant for the winner to establish a ‘twinning’ project within Australia - facilitating knowledge exchange with another river basin.
The Georges River Combined Councils’ Committee (GRCCC) is representing the Georges River, and has been invited to the Riverprize Gala Awards Dinner on 9 October 2012 where the winner will be announced as part of the International Riversymposium in Melbourne.
The theme for the 3-day Riversymposium is “Rivers in a Rapidly Urbanising World”. The Georges River is well placed to contribute to this forum as it experiences the pressures of urbanisation on a daily basis; its residential population is roughly 1.2 million people.
The GRCCC is an incorporated association of nine local government councils working in partnership with state and federal government agencies and community representatives to improve the health of the Georges River catchment. The GRCCC represents local government in the Georges River Catchment of NSW. Member councils include Rockdale, Sutherland, Kogarah, Hurstville, Bankstown, Liverpool, Fairfield, Campbelltown and Wollondilly councils.
The GRCCC works strategically with councils, agencies and community through its programs which include the Riverkeeper, Community River Health Monitoring Program and Estuary Management Program. The committee has also worked successfully over four years to develop the Georges River Coastal Zone Management Plan, which is scheduled for public release in late 2012. “The recognition received by the International RiverFoundation demonstrates the value of working in a regional alliance,” said GRCCC Chairperson Cr Julie Bourke. “GRCCC programs have allowed partners to work at different levels and meet their objectives. A mutually beneficial program strengthens the respect between organisations.”
The year 2011 was a momentum-building year for recognition of the GRCCC, which landed two state and three regional Keep Australia Beautiful awards for Environmental Protection and Waste Management, the NSW Urban Landcare Award, and was a finalist in two Green Globe awards. The GRCCC’s River Health Program is also currently a finalist for the National Urban Landcare Award, which will be announced in September, 2012.
The other two competing Riverprize finalists include Condamine River, QLD represented by the Condamine Alliance, and Swan and Canning Rivers, WA represented by the Swan River Trust.
International RiverFoundation CEO, Matthew Reddy, said that “The Australian Riverprize really is the Olympics of the environment, with each organisation trying to go greener, safer and cleaner.”
The Australian Riverprize was established in 2001 and is the largest prize for environmental achievement in the country. Awarded annually, it is funded by the Australian Government’s Water Smart Australia program, under the Water for the Future initiative. All Australian-based groups engaged in the sustainable management of the country’s rivers and wetlands are eligible to apply. For more information go to www.georgesriver.org.au