01 Nov Tony Weber
Tony leads the water modelling disciplines at Alluvium Consulting and has a strong interest in the management of urban rivers and waterways, along with the relationships of cities and their water catchments.
In recent years there have been a number of projects in Australia where there has been a strong push for swimming in urban waterways, including major rivers and smaller tributaries. These projects have generated considerable interest from the general public who see swimming as the ultimate goal in a lot of river and waterway restoration projects. Our paper discusses the aspirations and expectations of potential recreational users, and balances this against some of the realities of swimming in our urban waterways.
Swimming in major city waterways such as the Yarra, Parramatta or Brisbane Rivers all can be linked to an aspiration for better water quality. Interestingly, water quality is seen as the current barrier to increasing the swimmability of these waterways, but physical hazards, liability risks and dangers from other risks (shark attack, boating conflicts) can often be the limiting factors. In this paper we explore what the aspiration is or could be for swimming in an urban waterway and how we balance this against the realities of management in our urban environments. Social and intergenerational aspects of swimming as a restoration goal are also considered, especially where these are linked to historical and informal access but also how swimmability is perceived by stakeholders and how we can use that interest to influence restoration outcomes for waterways.
We also show how these issues can be incorporated into liveability frameworks as part of connecting communities with the recreational opportunities in our urban waterways.
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