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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 22 April 2021) . . Page.. 1053 ..

There will be some setbacks and we will learn as we go. These are challenging areas. The nature of being one of the leading jurisdictions is that the road map is not always clear. There is not someone who has done it before. We are happy to work some of these things out. We are helping others learn how to do these things. That is the nature of being a frontrunner. It is something that we embrace, and our community embraces, as part of helping this country, and potentially others, to tackle the very real threat of climate change.

I will turn briefly to water, because I know this is a significant issue of interest to some members. Water security and water quality are critical for the health and wellbeing of all Canberrans. Clean and secure water for drinking, agriculture, biodiversity and greening the city requires action to protect our water supply catchments and to reduce nutrients entering our waterways, along with actions to improve water efficiency.

Long-term nature-based solutions are needed to mitigate the impacts of a changing climate and the subsequent impacts on our water security. We have only to look back over the last couple of years to see the impacts of drought and floods. These types of events will become more commonplace and their effects more pronounced. The actions we take today to secure water and protect catchments will influence all life in Canberra and our surrounding region for decades to come.

The ACT government has strengthened its resolve to future-proof our region and will consider the best administrative arrangements to provide a holistic and coordinated approach to water programs and policies to make sure all the parts of government are coordinated, moving in the same direction and reinforcing each other’s work.

We cannot allow ourselves to become complacent because our storage is currently full. It is great that water storage levels in the ACT are currently at 100 per cent. But this is only one aspect of water security. Permanent water conservation measures will remain in force and the government is continuing to examine measures to improve water use efficiency. In partnership with the commonwealth government, we are continuing to identify a suite of water efficiency measures that are aimed at reducing our demand and returning up to seven gigalitres to the Murray–Darling system for environmental flows. This work will be critical for long-term water security.

In addition, I am pleased that we are continuing to undertake important work to reduce nutrients entering our waterways, and a couple of members have raised this issue today. ACT Healthy Waterways began in 2014 as a $93.5 million joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments to protect and improve long-term water quality in the ACT and the Murrumbidgee River system by reducing the levels of gross pollutants, sediments and nutrients entering ACT lakes and waterways.

This has been a both successful and popular program across the territory. It has seen the introduction of a series of urban ponds, rain gardens and various other features that not only are serving an important functional purpose but are actually excellent spots to improve biodiversity and recreation. They are very popular in the communities that they have been built in.

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