Locals have been urged to take a few simply steps to help protect their local waterways, including the Georges River.
Several organisations - Georges Riverkeeper, Cooks River Alliance, Parramatta River Catchment Group and Sydney Coastal Councils Group - have this month launched the Love Your Waterways campaign.
The campaign encourages people to follow five steps to prevent litter, pet waste, gardening materials, chemicals and other pollutants from getting into stormwater drains and travelling on to local creeks, rivers, beaches, bays and more.
The campaign also aims to raise awareness about the difference between stormwater and wastewater systems and the harmful impact that common household products have on marine life.
The simple steps for locals to follow are:
- Reduce your rubbish - dispose of your litter correctly and swap single-use plastics for reusable products
- Leave only paw prints - pick up pet waste to stop bacteria and other bugs from entering our waterways
- Wash it wisely - wash your car and household equipment the right way to prevent cleaning products from affecting water quality and marine life
- Cover it up - keep dirt, leaves and other garden waste away from stormwater drains
- Keep it clear - rain water is the only thing that should go down a stormwater drain
According to the NSW Environment Protection Authority, stormwater runoff is the biggest source of pollution in our waterways.
The main pollutants in runoff include: chemicals, such as fertilisers and pesticides from agriculture or gardens; litter, such as cigarette butts, plastic bags and other rubbish; sediments, such as soil erosion from construction sites; and natural pollution, such as leaves, garden clippings and animal droppings.
Georges Riverkeeper chair Adrian Wong said that campaigns such as Love Your Waterways helped improve the liveability of Sydney suburbs.
"Reducing stormwater pollution not only improves water quality and helps support aquatic life, it improves quality of life for Sydney-siders too," he said.
"Pollution is harmful to our health, safety and wellbeing.
"Simple action, such as picking up after your dog, disposing of household chemicals correctly, or just putting our rubbish in the bin, will make our waterways clean and safe for everyone to enjoy."
The latest campaign follows the success of the Get the Site Right campaign, another joint initiative which has been running for six years targetting erosion and sediment control on building and construction sites.
The campaign will be run online and support the work being undertaken for the Greater Sydney Harbour Litter Prevention Strategy.
To promote the campaign, organisers are running an Instagram competition with the opportunity to win some great prizes.
To enter, participants need to submit a photo of themselves, their family or friends performing one of the five Love Your Waterways actions, such as collecting and disposing of litter correctly or washing their car the right way.
Entrants need to specify where the photo was taken and add the hashtag #LoveYourWaterwaysSydney.
The competition runs throughout July and people can enter as many times as they like.
More info: georgesriver.org.au/love-your-waterways