The ACT Government has secured the balance of $85million of Australian Government funding for water quality improvement projects in the Murray-Darling Basin.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Climate Change Simon Corbell said that twenty-five priority water quality projects will be constructed across the ACT as part of the ACT Basin Priority Project.  

“This initiative will reduce the level of sediment, nutrients and other pollutants entering the ACT’s lakes and waterways, including Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Tuggeranong, as well as downstream into the Murrumbidgee River,” Mr Corbell said.

“The ACT Government did a lot of work to make sure that we nominated projects that would make a real difference to water quality in our lakes and waterways.

“It is great to see that the Federal Government has approved our priority projects so that we can now start delivering projects that will improve water quality for all Canberrans.”

The ACT Basin Priority Project covers six established catchments:

  • Lake Tuggeranong catchment – nine projects ($27million)
  • Fyshwick catchment – six projects ($15.9million)
  • Yarralumla Creek catchment – five projects ($16.3million)
  • West Belconnen catchment – two projects ($6.5million)
  • Upper Molonglo catchment – two projects ($3.4million)
  • Lower Molonglo  catchment – one project ($9.6million)

An additional $6million will also be allocated to public education, catchment works including in-lake research, and water quality monitoring and evaluation.

The ACT Government will contribute $8.5million to other water quality improvement projects in the territory.

“Investigations over the last 18 months included significant community consultation to identify the most effective water quality treatments for each catchment, taking into account each catchment’s different characteristics and the environmental impacts, community preferences, and cost-benefit analyses of the interventions,” Mr Corbell said.

“The final priority list of water quality treatments includes a mix of new wetlands, ponds, rain gardens, creek restoration, swales, gross pollutant traps and the potential use of stormwater for irrigation.

“These projects represent the best and most balanced outcomes for the ACT, improving our water quality, protecting the Murray-Darling Basin for future generations and providing more quality recreational areas for ACT residents.

“Canberra’s lakes and waterways are under increasing pressure, largely due to urban development, past land and water management regimes, climate change, and a general lack of awareness about the kinds of activities that have an impact on water quality.

“In particular, stormwater pollution poses a risk to public health and aquatic life and threatens the many social, economic and environmental benefits our lakes and waterways offer.”

The program of work will also include catchment education and awareness raising to highlight water quality issues and how residents, businesses and visitors can help to look after our waterways.

“Water quality in Lake Tuggeranong has been a particular concern and the treatment for this catchment will focus on removing the pollutants close to their source through a range of different treatments, including rain gardens, a pond, wetlands and the potential use of stormwater for irrigation,” Mr Corbell said.

“Lake Tuggeranong and Jerrabomberra Creek will also be part of a three year cross-catchment research project to trial the effectiveness of in-lake options, such as bubblers, to improve water quality.

“We expect to begin the next phase of work immediately with detailed engineering design, further community consultation and development approvals, followed by construction which is scheduled to be complete by mid 2019.

Mr Corbell said the next steps will include going back to the community to provide further information on the proposed water quality infrastructure and to lodge development applications with the Planning and Land Authority to pave the way for construction.

Jessica Dickers is an experienced journalist, editor and content creator who is currently the Editor of Utility’s sister publication, Infrastructure. With a strong writing background, Jessica has experience in journalism, editing, print production, content marketing, event program creation, PR and editorial management. Her favourite part of her role as editor is collaborating with the sector to put together the best industry-leading content for the audience.

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