Page 323 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (4.25): Over the last five years the issue of the health of the ACT’s lakes and waterways has been a growing concern for the ACT community. I would like to take the opportunity to outline the government’s position and response to these issues and our proposed future policy measures with respect to improving the health of our lakes and waterways.

We need to distinguish the purpose and use of our lakes and waterways, particularly in the context of revised catchment management. There are two broad catchment categories: drinking water supply catchments, which include areas such as the Cotter River and its tributaries—these are generally well managed and ACTEW Water assists in maintaining the quality of this vital water source; and then there are the urban water catchments. These catchments run through our developed and developing areas. They are more problematic and a significant source of pollution for our lakes.

I note that Mr Smyth seemed to suggest that apparently these waterways were pristine water bodies when he was the environment minister. I would simply draw his attention to the environment commissioner’s report for the year 2000, when Mr Smyth was the responsible minister. The commissioner was raising these issues then as well.

These catchments are problematic. The ACT government monitors the environmental status of waters in this catchment, including Canberra’s lakes, ponds and rivers, and advises on water quality conditions. General water quality parameters are also monitored to pick up long-term trends.

As members would know, we have a number of lakes and waterways—principally Lake Burley Griffin, which is the commonwealth’s responsibility—Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong and the Gungahlin pollution control ponds, which are managed by the ACT government. These lakes and ponds are primarily designed for capturing urban run-off, for stormwater retention and filtering and to act as settlement ponds.

To the extent of its design, the ACT’s lake system actually functions very well. However, its very function can often, at times, limit both the aesthetic and recreational amenity of these much-loved waterways. There is a clear need to raise the water quality of these lakes and streams, particularly in relation to the increasing outbreaks of bacteria and blue-green algae. In the case of Lake Burley Griffin, we must work very closely with the National Capital Authority. But we must also work closely with the New South Wales government and local councils as they approve new developments in areas within the lake’s catchment, such as Googong and Tralee.

The government will contribute to improving the health of the water tributaries to Lake Burley Griffin, and indeed all the other lakes and ponds in the territory, through significantly improved and coordinated catchment management.

Let me outline how this is proposed to be done. I would like to outline the purposes of our lakes and waterways and indicate at this preliminary stage the government’s plans to address these concerns. The need to review and enhance catchment management in

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