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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 25 March 2010) . . Page.. 1487 ..


its water resources to the ACT and has tabled commonwealth legislation to facilitate the transfer. The commonwealth would retain the management of lake activities, for example boating and events in and on the lake, as well as land it currently controls.

The changed arrangements, however, will pass the authority to manage the extraction of water, the sinking of bores and the undertaking of works in a waterway to the territory. These provisions would also apply to private water extraction on commonwealth land such as Canberra airport. In addition, the change would allow the inclusion of that volume of water set aside for commonwealth use in ACT water planning to be considered as an available part of the ACT water resource.

Water resources are administered in the ACT through the Water Resources Act 2007. The Water Resources Act requires management of the water resources of the territory to sustain the physical, economic and social wellbeing of the people of the ACT while protecting the ecosystems that depend on those resources both now and for the foreseeable needs of future generations. It requires the establishment of a regime of environmental flows and a system of resource allocation. The resource allocation system identifies commonwealth and territory shares of the resource.

The ACT operates a national water initiative compliant resource allocation system for its share. The commonwealth has operated a separate resource management system for the water under its responsibility. The operation of dual systems was inefficient and could potentially lead to the overuse of the water resource.

The establishment, therefore, of a single water resource management system under ACT control has several significant advantages for the territory. A single system will provide certainty for management decisions made by the ACT on water resource management. Currently, there is only a general understanding of volumes allocated by the commonwealth agencies and no knowledge of volumes actually extracted under its control or by the Department of Defence or Canberra airport.

Recent agreement to a Murray-Darling Basin, MDB, cap on extraction includes agreement to the inclusion of commonwealth controlled water in the ACT in future cap accounting. The transfer of water management will facilitate this commitment. The transfer will only involve the management of water resources. It will not involve any change in management responsibility for Lake Burley Griffin or other commonwealth land.

The transfer will result in commonwealth users becoming subject to water-related fees and charges that will result in a small net increase to ACT revenue of around $416,000 in the first financial year and $150,000 annually thereafter. An MOU will be developed to clarify issues not appropriate for inclusion in legislation prior to the commencement of the bill.

ACT agreement to the national water initiative and the settlement of a Murray-Darling Basin cap on extractions requires ACT water users to have access to interstate water trade. The Water Resources Act explicitly permits interstate water trading but the conditions were designed explicitly for trade within the ACT and do not fully cater for interstate trade. The bill expands the provisions to make them relevant to interstate water trade as well.


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