Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, Senator Simon Birmingham, and ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, announced the completion of a project agreement between the Australian Government and the Australian Capital Territory.
According to the joint media release, the Australian Government will provide $85 million for the implementation of the initiative to clean up the lakes and waterways in Canberra that will commence with enhanced water quality monitoring and data analysis of priority catchments to better inform a targeted program of future infrastructure.
Senator Birmingham welcomed the agreement saying that the establishment of an innovative and comprehensive water quality monitoring system will provide a solid basis for significant improvement in the overall health of waterways in and around the capital.
“Funding is being provided from within the state priority project funding envelope committed to the ACT, in line with their commitment to Murray-Darling reform and implementation of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan,” he said.
“This project has a two staged approach to improve water quality, ensuring the ACT Government can take an informed approach with appropriate and targeted mitigation measures. Value-for-money will be assured by firstly investing in understanding the problem and effective long-term solutions. Reducing the level of nutrients and other pollutants flowing into local waters will also improve water quality and river health in the Murray-Darling Basin downstream of the ACT, particularly the Murrumbidgee River.”
The Senator further added that the project will be focused on six priority catchments that account for 74% of total run-off and 54% of total pollutant load in ACT waterways and that the Australian Government will be working with the states and territories to implement the improvement of the water quality.
“This project will complement ACT Government efforts to reduce the impact of Canberra’s urban run-off on downstream water quality in the Murray-Darling Basin. The priority catchments within the ACT, including established areas in Yarralumla Creek, Fyshwick and new development areas in Lower Molonglo and West Belconnen, were selected as they can provide the greatest improvements in water quality at a local, regional and catchment level as well as produce best practice examples for future similar developments both in the ACT and Australia wide,” said Mr Corbell.
“By establishing a territory-wide water quality monitoring system, the project will also ensure that the necessary information and analysis for improved catchment management across the territory is available. It will provide our local community here with confidence that future water quality infrastructure investment decisions are targeted, cost effective and address the issues at the source.”