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The Swan Canning Riverpark is a highly productive system that is showing similar signs of environmental stress to other urban waterways around the world.

Community consultation has confirmed that people connected to the Riverpark consider water quality of prime importance to the values of the system as a whole. This is because good water quality is the cornerstone of enjoyment of so many activities and values associated with the river system.

Changes in water quality can affect social values and ecological health, a term which relates to the productivity of the waterway, its biological diversity and resilience to the negative impacts of a variety of pressures.

A range of factors have the potential to impact on the water quality - and ultimately the ecological health and wider community values - of the river system.

  • Excess nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) and organic loading enter the Swan Canning river system through groundwater, drainage and catchment runoff. These promote algal blooms and low oxygen conditions, which in turn places stress on fish and other aquatic life and can contribute to fish kills.
  • Contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides enter the waterway through the drainage network. They can be directly toxic to organisms, affect life cycles and enter the food chain. Some of these ‘non-nutrient contaminants’ can also result from disturbing acid sulphate soils.
  • Water borne pathogens can pose a risk to public health.

A number of plans have been developed to ensure a cohesive approach to dealing with water quality issues in the Swan and Canning rivers and the catchment.

The Swan Canning Cleanup Program (SCCP) 1999-2004 was launched by the Swan River Trust to tackle the increasing incidence of algal blooms in the Swan Canning river system.

The evaluation of the SCCP informed the development of the Healthy Rivers Action Plan (HRAP) 2008-2013, a $40 million plan to protect the environmental health and community benefit of the rivers by improving water quality through a catchment to coast approach. The HRAP was reviewed in 2014 and found to have been effective with good progress achieved on the six action areas targeted to improve water quality. Overall, 78% of the targeted actions were accomplished.

The programs that implemented the HRAP will continue to deliver the Swan Canning River Protection Strategy, which focuses on managing the Riverpark through a collaborative framework approach. Find out more about the Swan Canning River Protection Strategy on the Swan River Trust website.