Just six months after starting, the NutrientSmart Farms project has stopped 20 tonnes of nitrogen and five tonnes of phosphorus from entering local waterways in western Sydney’s lower Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment each year.
The Hawkesbury-Nepean river system is one of New South Wales’ most important natural assets. The river system’s catchment covers 2.2 million hectares, framing the western edge of the Sydney Basin. It is the source of drinking water to four million people, or 70 per cent of the NSW population. Its waters support agriculture and horticulture industries that generate more than $1 billion annually, including $600 million of irrigated agriculture which supplies much of Sydney’s fresh food.
Over time, the pressures of water extraction, catchment development and contaminated run-off have stressed the natural systems of the Hawkesbury-Nepean, resulting in excessive weed growth, algal blooms and high levels of pollutants.
The Australian Government, through its Water for the Future Program, has funded a $77.4 million program to help improve the health of the river system. The Hawkesbury-Nepean River Recovery Program comprises seven projects that are making more water available for environmental flows and reducing the amount of nutrients entering the river system. NutrientSmart Farms is one of the seven projects.
The Hawkesbury-Nepean River Recovery Program is managed by the NSW Government’s Office of the Hawkesbury Nepean and is one of a number of coordinated initiatives aimed at recovering the Hawkesbury-Nepean river system.