Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 26 March 2009) . . Page.. 1414 ..
releasing water from the Tantangara reservoir in the context of providing water security to the ACT?
Mrs Dunne: First of all we have to find the water.
MR CORBELL: Listen very closely. I thank Ms Burch for the question and for her genuine interest in the issue of providing water security for the territory.
There has been a lot said over the last 24 hours about the Tantangara transfer option that the government has agreed to in the last few days, including the claim that actual water is not available from the Tantangara reservoir. I would like to reassure members that this is not the case. Tantangara was designed to divert the annual snow melt from the Snowy plains to Eucumbene Dam. In summer the dam falls to less than 10 per cent of its total capacity. In spring its capacity increases sufficiently to allow it to divert, on average, over 250 gigalitres, subject to snow and rainfall. By comparison, this is more than double the total capacity of Googong Dam.
Let me turn to some of the detail of this transfer option. In October 2007 the government agreed to recommendations from Actew in regard to securing the ACT’s future water supply. These recommendations include enlarging the Cotter Dam; working on increasing the volume of water that could be transferred from the Murrumbidgee River to Googong reservoir and providing further advice on two options that do not rely on rainfall in our catchments—the design of a demonstration water purification plant and the Tantangara transfer option.
Under the Tantangara transfer option water would be transferred from the Tantangara reservoir in the Snowy Mountains Scheme to the ACT. This project would involve purchasing water entitlements from downstream irrigators; storing the water in Tantangara reservoir, which is situated on the upper Murrumbidgee River and, when required, releasing that water from Tantangara down the Murrumbidgee and into the ACT.
What I announced yesterday is that the government has agreed to proceed with this option. It is important to emphasise that this option will help us to increase the diversity of our water catchments and therefore improve our water security. There are three aspects of the Tantangara transfer scheme that the government and Actew will continue to progress.
Firstly, there will be the purchase of around 20 gigalitres of general security water entitlements and the conversion of these entitlements to 10 gigalitres of high security water entitlements. Good progress has been made with 12.5 gigalitres of general security water entitlements purchased with the view to having all the water available when the Murrumbidgee to Googong project becomes operational. The government has supported Actew’s purchase of water rights and their conversion to high security allocations, and it is important to stress that since 2006 the New South Wales government has made available at least 90 per cent of high security water rights to licence holders. Even in times of significant drought over 90 per cent of high security water entitlements have been honoured and have been delivered to those licence holders. They are an important and very secure form of water allocation.