Cooks River No Swimming Carnival a success

Greens Councillors joined with local residents this weekend at the ‘No Swimming Carnival’, to raise awareness of the ongoing campaign to make the Cooks River safe for swimming again.

The Cooks River is a significant landmark in the Marrickville Council area. Originally a natural river, which became an industrial sewer, the Cooks River has been tranformed in recent years through the coordinated efforts of local residents, environment groups, bush care, State agencies and the various Councils in the river’s catchment.

The rehabilitation of the Cooks River and its banks has been a priority for the Greens on Marrickville Council, who were successful in establishing the Cooks River Committee in 2006. Council’s support has included native plantings, wetlands, salt marshes, swales and permeable embankments, as well as investment in building/ upgrading the shared walkway along the river.

However there is still much work to be done. An ongoing concern is the continued flow of sewerage and stormwater into the river. Following active lobbying by residents and Council there has been significant investment achieved through Sydney Water and the Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, to improve wastewater systems and to complete the (re)naturalisation of the banks along the river.

The No Swimming Carnival organised by the Cooks River Valley Association on Sunday 24 February 2013 highlighted that much more needs to be done if the river is to become swimmable within the next 10 years. Water testing undertaken by the Association shows continued high levels of bacteria in the river. There are also high levels of rubbish (especially plastic bottles) and a stench from the river in certain stretches.

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The Cooks River Valley Association released a postcard at the event which shows the Cooks River Valley Lifeguards – who operated from the 1930s. Some of the participants in Sunday’s event recalled swimming in the river up until the 1950s.

swimming postcard

The Greens share the aim of making the Cooks River swimmable again, and will continue to work with the community, other local Councils and State agencies to ensure proper investment to make this happen.

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