Western Sydney is growing in population, housing, and jobs. As growth of the Western Parkland City continues, demand for recreation areas and water-based recreation opportunities will increase.
There is substantial demand in Western Sydney for more local swimming and recreation opportunities, with about half of local residents enjoying outdoor recreation involving water at least once a week. The largest barrier to accessibility is travel time.
The NSW Government has recognised that there is a lack of access to safe, open water for recreation in Western Sydney. Prospect Reservoir, a 520-hectare waterbody, and its surrounding lands offers an opportunity to improve this with opportunities for swimming, water sports and recreation.
It is in an excellent location about 20 minutes’ drive from the key cities of Blacktown, Cabramatta and Badgerys Creek where the new international airport will be based.
50,200 megalitres in storage capacity.
The 5.2 square kilometre lake is surrounded by Prospect Nature Reserve which contains protected bushland and is closed to the public and a smaller recreational area that includes picnic grounds and bicycle tracks, and is part of the larger Western Sydney Parklands.
Prospect Reservoir is a critical part of Sydney’s water supply system and preventing human interaction with water is currently crucial to managing raw water quality to Prospect Water Filtration Plant.
Recreational access into the reservoir will introduce an additional risk to water quality that will require significant investment in additional water treatment to continue to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines and protect public health.
According to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), the greatest risks to consumers of drinking water are disease causing microorganisms. Human contact at Prospect Reservoir from recreational use may result in harmful microorganisms being introduced.
To ensure the drinking water continues to be safe to drink, additional water treatment processes such as clarification and increased disinfection will be required.
Prospect Reservoir is a key part of Sydney’s water supply storage, so we need to ensure it is adequately protected. Other dams where swimming is allowed are not critical to the drinking water supply or have additional treatment processes in place such as more sophisticated filtration and ultraviolet light disinfection to ensure the water is safe to drink after human contact.
Picnic areas, walking tracks, cycleways and lookouts next to Prospect Reservoir are open to the community to use and enjoy.
There are several options being considered for the reservoir area, including:
- Expanding and upgrading the current recreation facilities
- Extending walking and bike-riding tracks
- Increasing cultural and heritage experiences particularly indigenous experiences
- Reusing buildings on site
- Constructing viewing platforms and removal of some fencing
- Building offline pools or other aquatic facilities
- Investigating in-reservoir swimming in a set area of the reservoir, in a potentially more manageable, contained space
- Kayaking and non-motorised boating access to the reservoir
- Exploring the potential for recreational fishing
These recreational activities are not being considered, due to safety concerns and environmental and heritage impacts:
- Access to the whole reservoir, including free swimming
- Access for motorboats due to water quality, and environmental concerns
- Lighting any fires due to the conservation value of the area, risk to the water supply, essential infrastructure assets and to neighbouring residential areas.
We will need to carry out a robust and comprehensive feasibility study that looks at the different options, the benefits and risks, and whether we can mitigate those risks effectively.
The study will be carried out in two phases that will investigate options for public recreation including swimming and non-motorised watercraft.
We are working on the first phase of the feasibility study and have released a discussion paper calling for public input.
This first part looks at the most immediate options that are available to us. It will involve options that maintain a barrier between the part of the water body used for recreation and the water body that we continue to use for our drinking water supply.
The second phase will provide a more in-depth analysis of these options and what needs to be done to allow activities like swimming and kayaking in and on the reservoir.
Sydney has some of the highest quality water in the world and we would never do anything that would compromise that.
Yes. The reservoir is an integral part of Sydney’s drinking water supply. It is one of three main supplies to Prospect Water Filtration Plant.
It is a key part of Sydney’s water supply storage, so we need to ensure it is adequately protected, balancing the opportunities for increased recreation while protecting Sydney’s drinking water supply and significant environmental and cultural values of the area.
The reservoir itself is owned and operated by WaterNSW but the surrounding parkland area and water treatment plant is owned by Sydney Water.
The nature reserve is managed by National Parks.