THE state government has chosen penny over pound in its latest decision to cut vital funding from the Streamwatch program.
The 22-year-old program allowed students and volunteers to monitor waterways for pollution, and has been particularly effective in the remediation project for Liverpool's South Creek.
South Creek is one of the most notoriously polluted water systems in Sydney.
Running through three local council areas, the creek has been greatly affected by urban and rural land pollutants.
Chief executive officer of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Pepe Clarke, said the funding cuts — of more than 70 per cent of the annual budget — grossly undermined the effectiveness of the program.
"NSW government's decision to cut funding for the popular Streamwatch program will reduce the ability of the community to monitor water pollution, and will deny thousands of kids the opportunity to learn more about their local environment," he said.
"Streamwatch has played an essential role in monitoring the pollution in our rivers and creeks.
"Without active monitoring, there is a much greater risk that pollution of our waterways will occur without our knowledge."
Mr Clarke said Streamwatch had effectively identified instances of industrial polluting in the past, and was the community body that held those responsible for dumping liable for the environmental impacts.
Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce was responsible for the decision to cut funding and transfer the program from the authority of Sydney Water to the Australian Museum.
He said the cuts would be reassessed after four years.
"The museum's wealth of expertise and knowledge in the delivery of science, education and research will contribute greatly to the success of this new phase of Streamwatch," Mr Pearce said.