What is a catchment?

Land and water are linked in a natural system called a catchment, which is literally the area of land that catches water and directs it to a stream, river, lake or ocean. In this way, a catchment is the land where water collects as it travels from Source to Sea. As this water travels through the catchment it interacts with a network of people and nature.

But what does it really mean to be part of this intertwined network?

People use the land around urban rivers for agriculture, industry, recreation, and living. Plants and animals also use the rivers and would not be able to survive without it. In this way, a change upstream impacts all of the human and natural communities downstream. A catchment is a place of interconnection. Rivers connect us. They link communities, create opportunities to be outdoors with friends and families, shape a sense of place that tie people together and support and protect local plants and animals.

Redeveloping and restoring these urban rivers is important for many reasons:

  • It supports natural processes (flood prevention, waste decomposition, soil regeneration, seed dispersal etc.) which we are absolutely dependent on for our survival
  • It provides and protects the habitat for plants and animals that we love
  • It improves water quality and quantity - It’s time to realise that water doesn’t just fall from the sky whenever we need it and it doesn’t magically pour out of the tap when opened. Our freshwater resources and infrastructure are precious and need to be protected, conserved and managed well to ensure sufficient supply for ourselves and future generations
  • It gives us a beautiful place to exercise, relax and unwind that stimulates our physical and mental well-being
  • It goes hand in hand with revitalising communities and creates a sense of place critical to any community
  • It connects urban dwellers with the natural world – right in our own backyard! – giving us a chance to learn about plants, wildlife and natural processes

But urban rivers are fragile

Every time we change the flow of the water or add in a concrete channel, we lose critical habitat for the many different species that live in and near the river, and we speed up the river flow, which makes us more at risk to floods and erosion. Waste from pets, lawn fertilizers, litter, paint, soap – anything we let touch the ground in the catchment can be washed into the waterway. This pollution not only kills species that live in the water, but also reduces water quality and affects both plant, animals and humans.

We are collectively responsible for the success of river catchments

Source to Sea connects people, nature, businesses, and organisations to the river catchment and to one another. We must coordinate our efforts and collaborate around the future of the catchment in order to restore and preserve a healthy river catchment which we can all enjoy.

So from Source to Sea, we must work together:

  • Don’t let litter, pet waste, soaps, paints, fertilisers, or other chemicals be washed into the urban rivers
  • Support efforts to reduce the amount of concrete that borders the rivers
  • Support businesses that are working to take care of the catchment
  • Hike, take pictures, go bird-watching, and enjoy the beauty of the catchment with friends and family!
  • Check out the great events occurring in the catchment
  • Engage with the Source to Sea partners. These are the organisations putting time and resources toward improving the health of our catchment.


Watch one of the following three YouTube videos of different lengths, which profile the Source to Sea River Corridor project:

Full-length (22 min): https://youtu.be/rhi515_5TwU

Medium-length (9 min): https://youtu.be/YAgvALwjpBo

Short-length (3 min): https://youtu.be/n9Ew52hzmUU

The full-length video includes inputs from various stakeholders who have been involved with the project, and presents a comprehensive vision for the Source to Sea project.

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