Each potential natural site has a unique set of characteristics, and we consider them all during the activation process. Some are perfect for swimming, while some might suit other water-based recreation, like kayaking. Some might require treated river pools or tow-in pools.
Long before we open any proposed site for water-based recreation to the community, we need to be sure it's suitable. It goes through a rigorous selection process. We hold stakeholder workshops and carry out short studies to understand feasibility, desirability, vulnerability and cultural significance.
Urban Plunge® criteria identify situations where activation of the waterway may be difficult or even impossible. If it turns out the site's not suitable for swimming, maybe it can be used for other activities like kayaking or 'splash contact'. We might think of other ways to make swimming possible, like creating a treated river pool. We consider things like boat traffic, water quality, land ownership, accessibility, and any ecological restrictions such as endangered species or vulnerable communities.
Even if a site is feasible for activation, we need to understand how the community perceives it and how it would like to see the site used, and what the current barriers to swimming here are. Often a site's desirability can be improved through providing infrastructure or other site improvements.
Our vulnerability criteria assess the relative risks from a safety and community acceptance point of view. The higher a site's vulnerability, the greater the management measures required to mitigate its risks. Considerations include susceptibility to algal blooms, water flow dynamics, flood susceptibility and riverbed hazards.
It's important to understand and respect the site's spiritual connection to First Nations peoples, as well as its historical and contemporary significance. We do a specific cultural and multicultural needs assessment, and targeted engagement with local communities.
RiverWatch® is Sydney Water's recreational monitoring and reporting program. It works with councils and other organisations to establish new swim sites and monitor existing sites.
Before any swim spot can be opened, Sydney Water makes every effort to ensure:
Water quality at any natural swim spot can vary depending on weather, tides and other factors. When you check out your local swim spot, you'll see today's water quality readings. We update the predicted water quality at each swim spot every day. Daily swim spot reports come from various reliable sources:
Note, the output of the RiverWatch predictive model is a prediction of water quality only and is not 100% accurate. As such, Sydney Water cannot guarantee the accuracy of any of the results or outputs from this model.
While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk and you release us from any claim alleging that the results are inaccurate or that they are not fit for their purpose.
Healthy waterways are critical to supporting the liveability of Greater Sydney, adding value to our urban green spaces, supporting the cultural and recreational needs of our people, and providing essential habitat for the species that call them home.
This webinar showcases a series of innovative, home-grown Sydney Water projects that aim to enrich the health and amenity of our waterways.
Watch the first in a series of our Urban Plunge webinars. Chris Romer-Lee from Studio Octopi joined Sydney Water's Senior Waterways Analyst Hannah McKnight to discuss how creative design can open up new areas for swimming.
Hear about the range of new concept designs, developed to help others visualise the potential for swimming under a range of different conditions experienced across Greater Sydney.
Chris also shares inspiring international examples of swimming sites, including Thames Baths (London), Saltcoats Bathing Pond and Tarlair Outdoor Pool (Scotland), as well as various other international examples that have influenced Chris and his studio's work.
Opening new swimming sites is complex and no 2 sites are the same. We have partnered with Studio Octopi to demonstrate what is possible in Greater Sydney Waterways. By drawing from precedents around the globe, this document is designed to inspire and encourage all those involved in the championing and delivery of swim sites to visualise the potential for swimming across a range of locations, the barriers and the design solutions suggested will be relevant to a range of real-life opportunities and challenges.
This document will be of interest to all those wanting to champion swim sites as members of the community, from councils, government agencies and for technical experts and designers.
Please get in touch with the Urban Plunge team if you would like to know more about this report or how we can help you bring forward a site firstname.lastname@example.org.