New plan to make Sydney Harbour a ‘swimmer’s paradise’ unveiled

“Some parts of our harbour are highly polluted and cleaning up these waterways so they can be used for recreation and to improve biodiversity will require cooperation across all levels of government,” she said. “Being able to swim safely in the harbour is a wonderful symbol of a healthy water ecosystem. If we can clean up the harbour, we will unleash enormous potential for community recreation and wellbeing.”

A proposal for a new harbourside pool at Pirrama Park.

A proposal for a new harbourside pool at Pirrama Park.

The closure of swimming pools and restrictions on travel during the coronavirus lockdown led to more people seeking out swimming spots within Sydney Harbour.

Speaking about the council’s plans at Sydney Water’s Innovation Festival on Monday night, Cr Moore said the pandemic had made dreams of a swimmable harbour more alluring.

“There is so much potential in having a swimmable harbour – from relatively simple swimming sites for locals, to the development of key harbourside swimming attractions for tourists and Sydneysiders alike,” she said at the event.

A City of Sydney spokesman said the proposed infrastructure works would be completed gradually once water quality improved, with simple projects such as the Beare Park proposal prioritised.

University of NSW water expert Stuart Khan said widespread improvement of water quality in Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River would require significant state government investment.

He said the only swimming spots west of the Harbour Bridge that were known to be safe for swimming were Lake Parramatta, Dawn Fraser Baths in Balmain, Cabarita Park beach and Chiswick Baths.

“You need a catchment-wide strategy to committing to do something [about water pollution], a coordinated strategy,” Professor Khan said. “In order for it to be done really effectively west of the harbour in a reasonable period of time you really need the NSW government to come in and make it a real focus. ”

He said the city’s sewerage and storm water systems needed to be better managed to try to prevent overflow into the Sydney Harbour when it rained.

Professor Khan said Barangaroo was a strong candidate for harbour swimming, while Rushcutters Bay would be a “high-risk site” largely due to the presence of a large storm water drain and frequent sewerage overflow.

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