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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 9 Hansard (13 August) . .

Page.. 2866..


Environment—water quality

DR BOURKE: My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Minister, can you outline how the basin priority project will improve the long-term water quality of the ACT's lakes and waterways and the broader Murrumbidgee River catchment?

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for his question. I am very pleased to say that the ACT basin priority project is a key initiative of this government. It is a commitment we have with our Greens colleague, Minister Rattenbury, and it is one that is directly aimed at improving water quality in a broad range of catchments in the ACT's urban lakes and waterways. Of course, we are the largest city in the Murray-Darling basin, and our waterways and urban lakes and ponds are an important part of our natural amenity. They are an important part of our urban and rural ecosystems and they are critical to managing water quality from our city into the broader Murray-Darling basin.

It is for these reasons that both the ACT and commonwealth governments have collectively allocated $93.5 million over five years to reduce the impact of stormwater, sedimentation and other pollutants on the ACT's waterways—our urban lakes, our ponds and urban waterways. The way we will improve long-term water quality is by making sure that we have a comprehensive dataset that understands the pollution loads and where they are occurring, putting in place this $93.5 million funding commitment investment in terms of infrastructure to improve water quality, and also having ongoing community education and engagement around what we each can do as Canberrans living in the suburbs and living in the city to reduce pollution entering our waterways and contributing to problems like blue-green algae, which we know is a big issue for a number of our urban streams, lakes and other water bodies.

The six priority catchments as part of the basin priority project are the upper Molonglo, the lower Molonglo, Fyshwick, west Belconnen, Yarralumla Creek and the Lake Tuggeranong catchment. This is a very comprehensive suite of urban catchment areas that we believe need to be better managed and where we can significantly improve water quality. To do that we are going to need to work closely with the community. We are going to make sure we get the best possible fit of infrastructure on the ground.

This will be one of the single largest urban waterway projects in Australia when you consider the scope and the range of measures that will be deployed on the ground. The options will see a strong level of community endorsement. They will have detailed technical and economic analysis to back them up. When we start delivering those next year, Canberrans will see that there is a very big program to address problems with water quality in all those catchments I mentioned, and that this government is committed to making sure our urban waterways are healthier and more able to be enjoyed and used every day of the year with fewer occasions of pollution occurring.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Dr Bourke.

DR BOURKE: Minister, can you tell us more about the options that have been developed for improving water quality in the six priority catchments?


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