Our Story

The Hawkesbury-Nepean Waterkeeper achieved global recognition from the international Waterkeeper Alliance (opens in new window), a global movement of community based organisation employing on-the-water advocates who patrol and protect of rivers, in 2011.

This global endorsement support the development of our original Waterkeeper initiative (2011 - 2014). Western Sydney University, TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute and the Hawkesbury Environment Network (HEN) worked together to protect the health and vitality of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River. The group formed a working group under the Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development – Greater Western Sydney. The first Hawkesbury River Waterkeeper was Dr. Alan Midgley, PhD candidate from the Western's School of Science. Alan was responsible for patrolling the river between Wisemans Ferry and the mouth of the Grose River, and reporting any river-related issues to the Hawkesbury Environment Network.

The HaRWEST website was developed in 2014 by academics and a PhD student from the School of Science at Western, with partners from TAFE NSW Western Sydney Institute (opens in a new window), Brewongle Environment Education Centre (opens in a new window) and the Hawkesbury Environment Network (HEN) (opens in a new window). The initial setting up of the HaRWEST was funded by the Sustainability Education team at Western Sydney University through a SURF grant. It expanded the Waterkeeper vision further upstream from solely focusing on the Hawkesbury, and opened up it up to the Hawkesbury-Nepean River stretching from Penrith through to Sackville.

Today, the Hawkesbury-Nepean Waterkeepers initaitve and the HaRWEST website has been renewed with a new collaborative working group under RCE-GWS from Western Sydney University (comprising RCE Greater Western Sydney - Sustainability Education and the School of Science), Greater Sydney Local Land Services (opens in a new window), Greater Sydney Landcare Network (GLSN) (opens in a new window), with Streamwatch (opens in a new window) and GLSN member groups: Cattai Hills Environment Network (opens in a new window), Hawkesbury-Nepean Landcare Network (opens in a new window)and Hawkesbury Environment Network (opens in a new window). The group has been working together since 2020 on building a community voice for the River. Our community expressed the desire for a healthy, liveable, swimmable, fishable Hawkesbury-Nepean River - and this is now our mission.