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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 11 Hansard (21 October) . . Page.. 3875 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

systems through evaporation. Treating stormwater would also improve water quality in our lakes and rivers. That has become a critical issue of late with the recent blue-green algae outbreak.

Through the economic white paper process, the ACT government has proposed financial and in-kind support for high-tech and environmental management businesses so that the ACT becomes known as a centre of excellence in these fields. An ambitious water recycling target would stimulate the local environment industry and potentially save us millions of dollars down the track.

A previous Liberal government committed to the no waste target in 1996, back when it seemed almost impossible, and technology has risen to the challenge. I hope that the ACT Labor government will have the courage to commit to a date to achieve a 100 per cent water recycling target and then commit the resources to make it happen.

If Canberra adopted a goal of 100 per cent water recycling, it may be a world first; but there is no reason why our clean, green city cannot lead the way. We could put an end to our water crisis, water restrictions and spending on new dams and we would be doing our part to restore Australia's rivers and our own urban lakes to their former glory. That is something that needs careful consideration. Whilst there might be some initial costs, the long-term benefits would pay off and it would mean great things for our water use and the water use of those in the region.

MRS CROSS (4.31): Water is a valuable resource, as we all know. The management of our water is always something of an issue. Most of us really just want to turn the tap on and have a drink, shower or water the lawns whenever we want to. Most people are so used to having water literally on tap that they find it impossible to imagine living without it, particularly in this resource rich country. Water is a renewable resource. Even in the ACT it is a renewable resource. The problem of water here is not saving water because it may run out. The problem is using more than we get each year.

Canberra has always been a dry place. The yearly rainfall is low and people often forget that we do live in a dry city. This knowledge has been around for years and Actew have known about that for years. It does surprise me a little, though, that it has taken the long drought and the bushfire issues to galvanise them into action and to encourage people to reduce their water consumption. I am encouraged by Mr Quinlan's comment that they have commissioned a report by the CSIRO. I look forward to that report being tabled in this Assembly.

Actew has always had an inherent conflict of interest. On the one hand, it is the sole provider of water for the territory. On the other, it is supposed to and does make a reasonable profit to add to general revenue. Perhaps that needs to be addressed.

There are ways to reduce the overall water consumption of the city, ways which I have thought very reasonable, but which have constantly been objected to by Actew and the department for years. Some of those are now being encouraged-at the eleventh hour. Water economies for households should include rainwater tanks and grey water usage.

The reluctance of certain authorities in the past to encourage these strategies previously leaves us now in the situation where many people are very worried about their gardens.

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