Making our waterways swimmable

Taking the Urban Plunge™

Swimming in healthy local waterways is the future that we're bringing to life through Urban Plunge, an exciting Sydney Water project. Urban Plunge has been designed to accelerate the delivery of more swimming and recreation opportunities in the rivers, creeks, lakes and inlets of our cities and suburbs.

We need partners to take the plunge with us

Urban Plunge Sydney needs partners, technology, processes and investment to support opening new swimming sites. Your organisation's support will make it easier and more cost-effective for government, the private sector and the community to deliver on this bold vision for Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains. To find out more about partnering in Urban Plunge, email

Our vision

Water is at the heart of creating green and connected places, and we have a strong cultural connection to water. Making it possible to swim in rivers has the capacity to transform amenity, recreation, health and enterprise across Greater Sydney. That's what Urban Plunge is about. Our ambition is to support local councils, government agencies and private enterprise to open new swimming sites throughout Greater Sydney. We recently partnered with the City of Sydney to open a new harbourside swim site, and we're looking for new partners to join the movement.

Projects leading up to this moment

Developing places to swim on the Parramatta River

Urban Plunge builds on and expands work that's been delivered on the Parramatta River. Through our partnership with the Parramatta River Catchment Group (PRCG) over more than a decade, it's been possible to safely and swiftly open new recreational areas to swim, splash and play in. There are now 4 swimmable areas in the Parramatta River, and many more are on the way.

Our RiverWatch™ water monitoring program

RiverWatch, established in 2019, is Sydney Water's recreational water quality monitoring and reporting program. It supports councils and government agencies to open new swim sites, and provides ongoing monitoring and support once sites are open. 

Lake Parramatta was officially opened for public swimming and water recreational activities in 2015. It had been closed for 72 years due to poor water quality. Photo courtesy of PRCG.

RiverWatch helps us measure and report on recreational water quality at swimming and kayaking locations. It provides real-time advice on daily and forecast suitability, and information on long-term water quality trends.

Our expertise in water quality modelling and monitoring through Sydney Water Monitoring Services, our National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited lab services, together with our network of technology partners means we can help local councils, agencies and developers open new swimming sites faster.

Naturally, RiverWatch will support Urban Plunge. It will be providing real-time swim site data in 2022. Feel free to email us for more information at

Urban Plunge Tech Summit 2022

Date: 25 November 2022  
Parramatta Square and online 
Full-day event – exhibition opens at 8:30am

The Urban Plunge Tech Summit 2022 is an industry-based event showcasing techniques and innovations that can make swimming and aquatic recreation in our waterways easier, cheaper and safer to deliver. The Tech Summit is a highlight of the 2022 Sydney Water Innovation Festival program.   

Register now

For further information and to get involved, email

New Places to Swim grants open

Applications are open for the 2022–23 round of the NSW Government Places to Swim program, with $10 million of funding for projects across the whole of NSW. Applications close at 4pm, 21 November 2022.

Funding opportunities include:

  • up to $1 million for projects that help you get in the water
  • up to $750,000 for ideas to get on the water
  • up to $500,000 for better access around the water.

Find out about successful projects from the 2021–22 grant program, and the new round of grants.

We can help with your grant application

Councils throughout Greater Sydney can contact us for advice on:

  • identifying suitable sites
  • understanding key constraints
  • developing appropriate solutions to enable safe aquatic recreation.

We can help you navigate the approvals processes and have experts on hand to advise on requirements for water quality monitoring. Find out more about the Urban Plunge offer.