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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (29 June) . . Page.. 2872..

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Hargreaves, for a very important question. Water issues are uppermost in the minds of Canberrans at the moment and have been for some little time as the result of a combination of circumstances: damage to the catchment and issues that arose from turbidity; long-term drought; the environment of a regime of restrictions; a water supply that continues to decline; climate predictions that are not all that hopeful; and rainfall that will be only a third of our average rainfall expectations after this year, following a year in which we had only two-thirds of our average annual rainfall.

There is within the Canberra community a level of genuine, and quite understandable, concern about, and enormous interest in, water use and the future needs of the city. So it was timely that the ACT government concluded, after detailed consultation and investigation, a detailed water strategy for the ACT, "Think water, act water", which I was pleased to release earlier this year.

The strategy sets out a determined and detailed strategic direction for ensuring that we have a secure water supply, that we now use water responsibly, that water is a sustainable resource and that we recognise just how rare and precious it is. I will not go into the details of the water strategy "Think water, act water", but it was well resourced in the third appropriation and in the budget that is being debated today. This term, millions of dollars are going to a range of initiatives that have started us on the road to a much more efficient and sustainable use of water in the ACT. The strategy has certainly raised the level of understanding in the community of what each of us can do to deal with water issues.

The long-term security of our water supply, for a city that is expected to increase in size to almost 400,000 in the next 30 to 40 years, requires us to look to the longer term. In that context, I have directed Actew to initiate a detailed assessment of the options that we should consider for the long-term water supply needs of the ACT. Members of the Assembly will be aware of the detailed report released by the chief executive of Actew, Michael Costello, entitled Options for the next ACT water source, which he released at the time of making a major presentation in April of this year.

In the report, Actew indicated that of 11 short-listed options for securing a long-term water supply for the ACT, it would commence work on a detailed investigation of three-namely, a dam in the Naas valley, a new dam on the Cotter river and the potential for extending a pipeline from Tantangara into the ACT, entering into a water-trading arrangement with New South Wales.

Each of these options presents a range of issues that need detailed assessment. To that end Actew has put together a team of experts and engaged consultants. Advice I have received from Actew is that they are seeking, as a priority, to answer the following five questions on each option: the net yield-how much water can be delivered; the environmental impact; the economics-that is, the costs and benefits to the ACT; risk assessments; and social aspects and issues such as water quality, family requirements and infrastructure solutions. These are important questions; this is a major undertaking.

Were we to take the option of building a new dam in Naas or in Cotter, we would be talking about a cash investment of about $150,000. We should not risk that level of

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