Page 3473 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 21 September 2005

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Cotter catchment to the Googong reservoir? How will this increase the security of Canberra’s water supply?

MR STANHOPE: I am grateful to Ms Macdonald for the question. I am grateful, in fact, for any question that causes the opposition in general and particularly Mrs Dunne to squirm in continuing embarrassment, as any discussion around dams and water storage does—the Tennent dam advocate. I will never forget the last election campaign and the claim made by the Leader of the Opposition then: “If elected, we will commence construction of the Tennent dam the day after the election. We don’t care whether or not the hydrology would justify the construction of a dam at Tennent, we don’t care whether climate change would affect the capacity to fill the dam; we will build the dam.” I thank Ms MacDonald for the question. Any opportunity to enjoy Mrs Dunne’s very apparent discomfiture at the enormous mistake of judgment inherent in her attitude to water and water storage gives me a gratuitous but perhaps not particularly spiritual sort of glee.

As has been previously discussed—and I am very happy to give an update on the progress—progress in relation to the completion of the water transfer system from the Cotter catchment to the Googong catchment is extremely good; it is exceeding our expectations. It is a major piece of work. The distance over which the tonnage of rock has to be removed from the Googong water treatment facility into the Googong dam is only short. But it is quite deep, and it is solid rock.

It has been a major engineering feat, as has been the lateral thinking involved in the decision to transfer water through this system. The reticulation model that has been developed by Actew in this particular instance is a great piece of engineering in progress. To the extent that the project underscores the capacity of engineers, in particular, employed by Actew, and Actew staff broadly, it is a wonderful commendation for all of them.

This simple expedient of simply reversing a couple of pumps, providing the capacity, through the size of the pipes, to transfer up to 150 megalitres a day when the project is completed some time in the next weeks is a major piece of engineering. It is a fantastic piece of lateral thinking; and it provides very much the sort of result the government was looking for through its commitment in think water, act water—our water strategy of putting off for as long as we possibly can, for the whole range of reasons why you would put off this decision, the construction of another dam. If we can put it off forever, what a fantastic achievement by the ACT government that would be.

Through just this one expedient, an expedient that has been delivered in a number of months, at a cost of no more than about $20 million, the capacity to deliver 150 megalitres of water a day that is currently flowing out of the territory, down the Murrumbidgee—consistent, nevertheless, with our environmental flows—is an absolutely fantastic achievement. That 150 megalitres a day is 40 megalitres more than our winter daily consumption; it is consistent with our autumn and spring consumption; and it is only 50 megalitres less than our summer consumption. That is what we are talking about. We are talking about the capacity to transfer from a catchment, which is producing excess water, into a giant tank, essentially, in the Googong catchment almost our average daily water needs. We will be able to do that for all those months in which we have that excess supply in the Cotter catchment. It is a fantastic achievement by Actew.

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