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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 2 Hansard (27 February) . . Page.. 330 ..

MR SMYTH: There is always merit in providing facilities for the community, and that is why this government over time has built some of the best skateboard parks in the country. We will continue to provide community facilities. Through a balanced budget, you can do that. You can allocate money to providing assets for the community. We call it building social capital, putting in the infrastructure that allows us to return to the community a dividend for the tough years we had to go through to make up for Labor's financial mistakes. Again, this is a matter for the draft budget. We would be very happy to see Mr Rugendyke's proposal from his committee.

Discharge from Belconnen landfill

MR CORBELL: My question is to the Minister for Urban Services also. Following the discharge from retention ponds at the Belconnen landfill into the Murrumbidgee River on Friday, 22 February this year, can the minister say whether any testing of the physical, chemical or biological characteristics of the discharged liquid was undertaken? If so, what were the nature and results of those tests, and will he supply the results to the Assembly?

MR SMYTH: I can provide those details to the Assembly. There are two sorts of ponds at the West Belconnen landfill. One is for the retention of leachate, which is the highly dangerous material that comes out of the landfill. The other ponds collect the cross-ground flow after rain. It is important we do that; otherwise, muddy water flowing in to the Murrumbidgee will have an effect on the river. At West Belconnen we catch that water. It was that water that was released from the ponds. The water that flowed into the Murrumbidgee was cleaner than it would have been had those ponds not been there.

The water is tested prior to discharge to ensure that appropriate standards are met. The results from the release are well within the standards. For suspended solids, the result was 8.4 milligrams per litre, and the standard is under 60. For faecal coliforms measured at CFUs per 100 millilitres, the result was 82. The standard is less than 1,000. For dissolved oxygen, the result was 10.7. The standard is greater than four. Water is discharged from the ponds in case of more rain. It is a good environmental practice. I will make that material available to the Assembly.

MR CORBELL: I thank the minister for the information. I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister say who undertook the tests he has just quoted? Can he indicate to the Assembly whether similar discharges into the Murrumbidgee have occurred over the past year? If they have, how often?

MR SMYTH: I do not have the name of the firm that does the testing, but they are accredited to provide that sort of information. I can get that information for the Assembly. The releases occur four to six times a year, depending on rainfall. The ponds are there so that the water sediment can dissolve without getting into the Murrumbidgee. If the water has to go into the Murrumbidgee, it can, because it is in effect rainwater. When rain is forecast, if necessary, we clear the ponds. This happens four to six times a year.

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