Page 2169 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022

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nature and enjoy our neighbourhood amenity. Through commissioning this inquiry, we gain an independent perspective on the work that still needs to be done to protect and enhance our urban lakes and waterways, and to test proposed approaches in relation to water governance, compliance and policy responses.

I thank the Commissioner for comprehensively engaging with these issues and providing recommendations that will assist us with the work ahead. Our urban lakes and waters trap and control pollution, assist with flood mitigation, provide habitat for flora and fauna, and offer recreational opportunities. They form a central aesthetic component of Canberra’s urban design. We know that our urban lakes and waterways are under increasing pressure from climate change, increased urbanisation and a growing population.

We also know that the values that we hold for our lakes are not necessarily always complementary. For example, when a lake effectively traps pollution and prevents contamination from reaching waterways downstream, it may impact the lake’s aesthetic value or interfere with recreational use. Balancing these competing priorities is understandably complex for our management agencies.

To help inform our management practices, this investigation considers waters that are within or flow through the Canberra urban environment. A significant portion of this report is dedicated to the state of Canberra’s three lakes—Lake Burleigh Griffin, Lake Ginninderra and Lake Tuggeranong—and the various pressures impacting these lakes.

I would like to acknowledge the work of the agencies across government portfolios for delivering policy, planning, programs and compliance that support our urban environments. This work is multifaceted, at the forefront of available science, and we are responding to legacies and emerging challenges. These challenges are not easy to address. Importantly, we have dedicated professionals that exhibit a strong commitment to their work.

Reviews conducted by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment are really important for providing us with a reality check of what we are doing well and where we really need to improve. They are a critical piece of information to help us better manage our urban and our natural environments. This report will further improve the management of our lakes and waterways.

The Commissioner draws attention to key management issues related to governance, coordination and resourcing. This government is responding. This report has re-affirmed the need for specific investments and work over the next few years that will ensure that our urban lakes and waterways continue to serve their functions in an evolving city and with changing climatic pressures. The report acknowledges the significant investments that have been undertaken to ensure the health of our waterways.

The Healthy Waterways program is one of the cornerstone initiatives that is being supported by government for delivering tangible, on-the-ground improvements in water quality. The focus of the Healthy Waterways program is to address pollution from its source, through strategic catchment planning, targeted scientific investigation and ongoing community education. The investment in this program has been significant and is continuing.

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