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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3873 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

In regard to people using sprinkler systems rather than hand-held hoses, yes, I think you can operate a reticulated system that will use less water than someone standing around for the same amount of time hosing the garden. I agree with that. But I will bet you money that on the overall average, people are not prepared to stand and water by hand as long as they are prepared to leave their sprinkler systems on.

Mrs Dunne: It's purely nuisance value.

MR QUINLAN: I am just prepared to take that bet. These have been put together intuitively. If you come in here and give me some scientific proof, some empirical evidence, that we can improve those restrictions, I will be happy to do it. Individuals have had problems with them, and that is understandable. But there was no intent, in putting those restrictions together, other than to reduce our consumption and to try and do it in the fairest, most practicable and most understandable manner.

If there is a better way to do it, and do it overnight-it is not a case of changing the whole infrastructure of houses, or whatever-then we are prepared to entertain any suggestion. All we want to do is get through this crisis to another year. We are facing this crisis for another year because of our limited treatment capacities. It is not only our limited water supply; we have a limited treatment capacity at this stage, which will be augmented.

MS DUNDAS (4.25): I thank Ms Tucker for raising this important issue for debate today. Water shortage is definitely a long-term issue for the ACT, but it has taken a drought such as the one we have experienced to focus public attention on it. The recent outbreak of blue-green algae in our lakes has highlighted the risks associated with discharging large volumes of untreated stormwater into our lakes.

I believe that the ACT is a place where visionary things can happen. The no waste by 2010 target was one that was ahead of its time. A target of 100 per cent water recycling by 2030 would be equally visionary and would mark the ACT as a world leader in environmental management.

We have had a lot of discussion already about the need for long-term water restrictions and the imbalance between our use of water and available supplies. Per capita water consumption in the ACT has dropped by almost 50 per cent since 1991, but overall water consumption is only 10 per cent down on 1991 levels. Total consumption continues to rise as the population grows. Naturally, the amount of water flowing through the Molonglo is not increasing in line with our population, so I believe that we need to reduce our per capita consumption very substantially.

In the past, a growing population has meant a decline in environmental quality. We have an opportunity to reduce environmental impacts as our population grows, but it will take a commitment to continuous improvement in energy efficiency and waste treatment, including water treatment.

Water reuse is the most obvious way to dramatically reduce the water intake from reservoirs. Melbourne Water is striving for a water reuse target of 20 per cent by 2010.

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