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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 23 September 2010) . . Page.. 4476 ..


I am looking forward to working further on this issue in the ecological carrying capacity inquiry. This is being run through the climate change committee, and this inquiry will focus on the resource base for the ACT. It will include water and it will include food, as just two examples, and not just the ACT but the surrounding region. Of course, there might be issues of population that come into it, but it is also about how we use resources, our consumption levels and so forth. I am very much looking forward to hearing a range of views from individuals, community organisations, experts and so forth. There will be, no doubt, input from the private sector and members in this place who will participate in that inquiry.

In conclusion, I want to say that water consumption and water efficiency continue to be issues of importance here in the ACT. Population changes, changes to our urban form and climate change scenarios that predict shrinking inflows into our catchments mean that we must remain a community that is vigilant about water demand management well into the future. It is for those reasons that I brought this matter of public importance here today.

I understand that one of my colleagues may be following up to talk about other practical measures that can be put in place around how to conserve that precious resource of water. No doubt we will touch on some of the strategies that are in place already and how we might enhance those strategies. I understand that my colleague Mr Rattenbury will also be speaking on this matter today.

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (3.54): I am happy to be able to speak to this matter of public importance today. Ms Hunter has talked about decisions concerning water restrictions and other measures in relation to water security. In the ACT, the schemes of permanent water conservation measures and temporary water restrictions apply to the use of water from the Actew potable water supply system.

Water restrictions are designed to protect water security by reducing the overall consumption of potable water during times of water shortage. Permanent water conservation measures are about the efficient use of water to avoid unnecessary capital expenditure on water security programs and recognising the ACT’s place in the Murray Darling Basin system.

Compared to recent years of below average rainfall, this year has seen a considerable improvement in total volume. The most recent data from Actew indicates that rainfall for September at the Canberra airport has been measured at 65.4 millimetres. The historical average for September is 52.2. This year we have received 548 millimetres at the Canberra airport, which is about the expected average. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a La Nina, wetter than usual, outlook for spring 2010. Storage is currently at 79.1 per cent. This is the best level at this time of the year since 2002, when it was 69 per cent.

However, we cannot by any means be complacent. It is important to see this recent rainfall in the context of the changeable water conditions our region has experienced over recent times. Over the last 15 years, our average inflow levels have decreased by 50 per cent, and in the four years since 2006 the average reduction has been more than


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