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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 04 Hansard (Thursday, 30 March 2017) . . Page.. 1365 ..

MS CODY: Minister, can you provide an update to the Assembly on the other projects being undertaken as part of the healthy waterways project?

MR GENTLEMAN: The ACT healthy waterways basin project is a $93.5 million joint initiative of the commonwealth government and the ACT government to protect and improve long-term water quality in the ACT and the Murrumbidgee River system by reducing the level of sediment and nutrients entering ACT lakes and waterways. The project is now in the implementation phase. I want to take this opportunity to thank the previous minister, Minister Corbell, for the work that he did, and the federal government for their support, too.

From the original list of over 500 potential water quality improvement infrastructure options, 188 projects were tested with the community in July 2015. In prioritising options, criteria such as water quality performance, cost, amenity value, feasibility, environmental and heritage values were taken into account. Finally, 25 priority sites were chosen, with a number of additional reserve sites also identified. Development applications are in the process of being progressed. The applications are being progressively submitted to the planning and land authority for assessment. The first group of 11 applications has been submitted to the planning and land authority for assessment.

Construction of the first projects is expected to begin in the second half of 2017. The order in which projects are implemented will depend on opportunities to generate efficiencies by combining work on various projects and site and seasonal constraints. The government will continue to keep the community informed as the projects receive planning approval and construction commences. The government will also ensure that the community is made aware of when the development applications for the remaining projects are submitted. To date, the community has provided a significant amount of feedback on the healthy waterways project which has been invaluable in progressing to this stage. I again encourage those interested to have their say on the development applications as they are submitted.

MS ORR: Minister, can you inform the Assembly about the H2OK information campaign, which is also part of the healthy waterways project, and how it will help to improve water quality in the territory and the surrounding water catchment.

MR GENTLEMAN: I thank Ms Orr for her interest in the environment. I was pleased last month to announce the beginning of the H2OK keeping our waterways healthy program as part of the joint federal and ACT government initiative to improve water quality in the ACT and wider Murray-Darling Basin and the ACT healthy waterways project.

The biggest cause of water pollution in our lakes and waterways is contaminated stormwater runoff from our streets, our house blocks, development sites, and retail and industrial areas. Monitoring tells us that many of the creeks and waterways in our urban areas are not that healthy. And with Canberra’s increasing population, the pressure on ACT lakes and rivers, and downstream in the Murrumbidgee River system, will grow.

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