Paul Hackney

Paul Hackney

Paul Hackney, Australia

Dr Paul Hackney is a water professional with 30 years experience in the water sector, with a PhD in water treatment technology. He has worked in academia, consultancy, local, state and federal government in both the UK and Australia. Currently he works for the City of Parramatta Council, a local government agency in metropolitan Sydney. At the Council he works on water quantity and water quality issues, including flooding, stormwater quality improvement and activation of the waterways across the Council’s area.

Presentation Title: Returning Swimming to Lake Parramatta – a 72 year journey

Lake Parramatta, a decommissioned drinking water reservoir in Sydney, Australia was closed to swimming in 1942 due to water pollution and drowning concerns. 72 years later it reopened. Since this reopening it has become one of the most popular inland natural swimming spots anywhere in Australia with many thousands of visitors every year.

Lake Parramatta is located approximately 3km north of the City of Parramatta, which is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia. From its creation in 1855 Lake Parramatta was very popular swimming area, with major events such as swimming carnivals and life saving exhibitions. Unfortunately, all these activities came to a halt on 30th November 1942 when the local Council banned swimming due to pollution and drownings.

During the 1970’s and 1980’s sewerage and stormwater inputs of pollution were slowly brought under control, until in the 1990’s and 2000’s scientific and other work began to show that the Lake could soon be swimmable again, and tentative efforts were made to return swimming under controlled circumstances e.g. special events. These efforts were accelerated by the creation of a new, catchment wide campaign by the local catchment group to return swimming at multiple locations, as a method of encouraging engagement and interaction in the community with waterways and lakes.

This culminated in the reopening of the Lake to swimming on January 24th 2015, 72 years and 54 days after its closure. Thousands of people now flock to the Lake every summer to swim and enjoy the environment around the Lake. Reopening the Lake to swimming has also encouraged and supported the vision of the local catchment group to return swimming at other locations around the catchment.

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