Page 324 - Week 01 - Thursday, 29 November 2012

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the ACT has been identified by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and by the Chief Minister’s task force on Lake Burley Griffin, while revised administrative structures for both water and catchment management have been flagged as a commonwealth requirement to ensure probity in the application of the potential commonwealth priority project funding of $85 million.

The soon-to-be-released review of think water, act water and the subsequent revised long-term ACT water strategy place a renewed emphasis on integrated catchment management and will become a focus of the re-elected government’s water agenda.

The indicators of a need for a more integrated approach to catchment management include: continuing degradation of water quality in Canberra’s urban waterways and lakes; impinging urban development around Queanbeyan, Googong, Tralee, and other proposed significant subdivisions in the Jerrabomberra Creek catchment; and the need to integrate catchment management with nearby New South Wales bodies. The inclusion of the upper Murrumbidgee River catchment into the ACT’s water supply—that is, the area of the upper Murrumbidgee from Tantangara Dam downstream—means that management for drinking water supply needs to be applied to that catchment also. Potable water supply systems originating in surrounding national and state parks need to be managed and the continuing development pressures within the ACT itself also need to be managed.

Members would be aware that the government has been successful in accessing funding from the commonwealth government as part of the finalisation of negotiations through the Murray-Darling Basin plan. We have received principle agreement from the commonwealth minister Mr Burke for approximately $85 million to be allocated to catchment management initiatives. The government will be looking to form an overarching water management body, such as a catchment management authority or water resources authority, which will be responsible for total water management in the territory. This authority will also be responsible for the expenditure of any commonwealth funding as it relates to their guidelines for improving the overall health of the Murray-Darling Basin.

I am very pleased that the government has been successful in securing this $85 million for a territory-priority project. The use of these funds, as I have indicated, has been supported in principle by the commonwealth Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, provided the initiatives meet the satisfactory business case and feasibility requirements of the commonwealth to address water quality. This latter point is important. The money is not a gift; it comes with certain conditions and we need to be mindful of the commonwealth’s broader interests in applying these funds.

Under the agreement the ACT is required to contribute at least 10 per cent as a contribution to the priority project, on top of this funding. Clearly this funding is additional to that already being provided for catchment management in our jurisdiction.

What is very exciting about this pool of money is that for the first time we will have a large and dedicated resource to focus on a comprehensive catchment management

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