A new project aiming to restore the natural environment of Isabella Pond and improve water quality on the Tuggeranong area of the Australian Capital Territory is set to begin.
The Isabella Pond wetlands project is the first to be constructed as part of ACT Healthy Waterways, a joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments to invest more than $80 million in the construction of water quality infrastructure on up to 25 sites across the ACT.
ACT Senator Zed Seselja said the project would not only deliver recreational benefits to Canberrans, but would also contribute to a healthier Murray–Darling Basin.
“The Australian Government is committed to building better water infrastructure that delivers benefits for communities right across the country.
“In the ACT, we are contributing up to $76 million for the construction of key water infrastructure projects to improve long-term water quality and reduce levels of pollutants and nutrient runoff entering our waterways.
“These kinds of projects are a win–win. They create an even better environment and opportunities for recreation for Canberrans, and also deliver flow-on benefits for downstream water quality and river health for the Murray–Darling Basin.
“I look forward to seeing this project delivering real benefits for ACT communities soon,” Mr Seselja said.
Minister for Urban Renewal Mick Gentleman said the area around Isabella Pond and Upper Stranger Pond will soon be fenced and the water drained so work can start on the construction of new wetlands.
“The new wetlands will attract birds and other native wildlife and play an important role in improving water quality downstream in Lake Tuggeranong, the Murrumbidgee River and the wider Murray-Darling Basin.
“While Isabella pond is drained to construct the wetlands, the ACT Government will also undertake an upgrade of Isabella Weir to bring it into line with national best practice guidelines and the recently introduced ACT Dam Safety Code,” Mr Gentleman said.
The draining of the ponds also allows for the removal of carp, an introduced pest species. Once works have been completed the ponds will be restocked with native fish.
“This is a great opportunity for the ACT Government to restore a more natural environment in the ponds and improve water quality by building wetlands, removing the carp and restocking with native fish,” Mr Gentleman said.
“In line with the project’s Construction Environment Management Plan and Aquatic Ecology Management Plan, fauna and flora that live in and around the ponds will be carefully managed during the project.
“Protocols will be in place to deal with any unexpected finds, from turtles or snakes to shopping trolleys. Any native species found while draining the ponds, for example Murray Cod, will be put into aerated water tanks and relocated to nearby Lake Tuggeranong. Water birds will relocate themselves and return when the work is completed,” Mr Gentleman said.
Upper Stranger Pond will be allowed to refill once the carp have been removed but Isabella Pond will remain empty for 12-18 months to complete the weir upgrade and the construction of the wetlands.
Tuggeranong Pond, downstream of Isabella Pond, will also need to be lowered during construction of the weir. Tuggeranong Pond will not be emptied, but the level will be lowered by between one and two metres.