‘Environment election’ as ACT Greens announce plans for new ACT Office for Water

Australian Greens

The ACT Greens have today announced plans for a $33 million environment package that will deliver major improvements to the quality of Canberra’s waterways.

Current estimates suggest almost half of the ACT’s waterways are in poor or degraded condition. Canberra’s lake and river sites also regularly experience closures due to issues such as algae and bacteria.

To ensure Canberra’s waterways flourish, the Greens will:

  • Roll out a major infrastructure program of $30M, continuing the successful Healthy Waterways project. This will include new wetlands, rain gardens, ponds, swales and restoration projects, to benefit Canberra’s water catchments, including Lake Tuggeranong, Yarralumla Creek, West Belconnen, and Molonglo.
  • Establish an ACT Water Office that will better manage, report, and take action on improving water in the ACT, at a cost of $200,000 per year over the next four years. This new Office will then roll out large-scale infrastructure programs to continue and improve the ACT’s existing Healthy Waterways project, including new wetlands, rain gardens, ponds, swales and restoration projects across Canberra’s water catchments.
  • Protect and manage key urban river and creek corridors as nature reserves, like the Molonglo River Reserve is, over the next 4 years (such as Ginninderra Creek, Jerrabomberra Creek, Woolshed Creek).
  • Increase funding to remove weed species, and re-establish riparian vegetation to improve habitat and protect lakes and waterways from pollutants (additional $0.5M over 4 years).
  • Introduce a new, best practice ‘water sensitive urban design’ requirement into the Territory Plan, to ensure new developments are designed to sustainability manage urban water and minimise stormwater runoff and associated pollutants.
  • Provide increased, and stable funding of $0.8M over 4 years to Canberra’s valuable community catchment groups, Waterwatch and Frogwatch.
  • Have the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability conduct an inquiry into the state of lakes and waterways in the ACT, with recommendations for Government to action.
  • Develop an Indigenous River and Catchment Rangers program to work alongside Traditional Custodians to manage water health and design strategies to improve water health through cultural understanding of water resources and management.

Today’s announcement follows the recent launch of the ACT Greens’ $53 million plan to make Canberra Australia’s urban biodiversity sanctuary, by building local ecosystems that support species threatened by human-induced climate change and habitat loss.

As stated by ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury:

“Over a century ago, the founders of Canberra designed this city to have a reliable water supply. Yet poor urban planning and an outdated view that treats water as a waste product has led to murky, unhealthy and polluted aquatic environments. The threat of climate change exacerbates these problems.

“The Greens are committed to protecting our environment and everything that depends on it. We need to treat water as part of the urban ecosystem, not separate to it.”

As stated by ACT Greens Environment spokesperson Jo Clay:

“Canberra is experiencing the impacts of climate change. This means we will get more severe droughts and more frequent floods. We need to make sure our city is adapting to cope. And we need to start looking after our natural resources. We must respect our precious water and restore our beautiful waterways.”

/Public Release. View in full here.