Page 1640 - Week 05 - Thursday, 7 April 2005

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(4) What studies were undertaken to assess the impact of re-planting with pines on water yields and will these be made available.

Mr Stanhope: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Following the January 2003 bushfires, 4,300 ha of plantation land in the Lower Cotter Catchment was burnt. Of this area, it is planned that about 3,500 ha will be returned to pines. Approximately 2,000 ha of land has already been cleared and/or planted as of March 2005. It is envisaged that there will be in excess of an additional 700 ha added to existing native buffer areas.

In order to re-establish appropriate vegetation in these areas, site preparation must be undertaken. This may involve the removal of weeds, pine wildlings and native re-growth in areas where burnt pines are being cleared and where planting is due to occur.

ACT Forests have sought to minimize disturbance in these areas, and where possible will be leaving re-growth of appropriate species where it has naturally occurred.

(2) Yes. Independent expert advice has confirmed that the methods employed by ACT Forests are best practice.

(3) ACT Forests hold an Environmental Authorisation for the commercial application of pesticides and inform ACTEW of proposed spraying activities in the Catchment.

All pesticides used are registered under the National Registration Scheme and have been subject to an assessment and approvals process by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

ACTEW tested raw water from Lower Cotter for a variety of parameters before considering it suitable for abstraction. These included a standard suite of known pesticides and herbicides, which were tested for on 7 May 2004 and 2 December 2004. No pesticides or herbicides were detected. Following these clear results, water was drawn from the Lower Cotter up to end February 2005.

Further testing was conducted by ACTEW on 8 March 2005, with no pesticides or herbicides detected.

ACTEW publicly report that the Canberra water supply meets all the agreed water quality standards, as specified in the Australian Drinking Water Quality Guidelines.

(4) No studies specific to the ACT have been undertaken within Government to date to assess the impact of re-planting with pines on water yields. However, evidence from other catchments and the Murray Darling Basin Commission have indicated that for all vegetation types, water yields decrease during re-generation.

The replanting of pines in the Cotter catchment was considered in detail by the Non-Urban Study Steering Committee. The Committee’s report, Shaping Our Territory; Final Report: Opportunities for Non-Urban ACT is a matter of public record.

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