A bold plan to make Sydney Harbour swimmable has been unveiled by the City of Sydney with a series of pools slated for inner-city areas.
In a speech to the inaugural Sydney Water Innovation Festival, City of Sydney Mayor Clover Moore pitched her plan to clean up the city’s water and deliver a more usable waterfront.
While in its early conceptual phases Moore said it was "not a pipedream".
Sites at Pyrmont, Elizabeth Bay, Barangaroo, Rushcutters Bay and Glebe were all slated for potential swimming developments.
“The vision of wandering down to the harbour for a dip in Glebe, Pyrmont or Elizabeth Bay rests on improving water quality,” Moore said.
“Some parts of our harbour are highly polluted and cleaning up these waterways so they can be used for recreation and to improve biodiversity will require co-operation across all levels of government.
“The city will continue to play its part to make this happen through our stormwater management initiatives, and through our growing collaboration with Sydney Water.”
Moore cited Copenhagen as an exemplar in cleaning up their harbour over a 15-year period so people can now swim while wildlife is thriving.
“Turning the harbour into a safe place where people can swim, exercise or relax is the logical next step,” Moore said.
“Swimming in the harbour is no pipe dream … cities around the world are turning to their natural harbour assets rather than building more infrastructure and we can do the same.”
Moore said she had written to the state government last month asking for a whole-of-government approach to cleaning up the harbour.
The council has commissioned Andrew Burges Architects to investigate options for a swimmable harbour. The project has pitched waterside pools at locations including Pirrama Park at Pyrmont, Beare Park at Elizabeth Bay, Barangaroo, Rushcutters Bay and the foreshore at Glebe.
Some areas would require minimal changes to existing infrastructure, while the proposal for Glebe is to build multiple swimming pools on a man-made island, connected to the Glebe foreshore via a pedestrian bridge.
Andrew Burges Architects engagement to scope locations and designs for harbour swimming locations comes after winning a competition to design the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre at Zetland, which was delivered this year.
The winning design for the Zetland pool had studied and emulated Sydney’s iconic beach pools.