ACT catchment clean up for Murray-Darling Basin

Posted 8 September 2016

ACT catchmentCanberra is working to drastically reduce the volume of pollutants that make their way from the city's suburbs into the Murray-Darling Basin.

The ACT Healthy Waterways (Basin Project) aims to intercept 5132 tonnes of suspended solids each year, including 4.3 tonnes of phosphorus and 18.4 tonnes of nitrogen, across six priority catchments.

ACT Environment and Planning Directorate Program Manager Justin Foley said the project would have beneficial impacts far beyond Canberra's lakes.

“We're the largest urban settlement in the Murray-Darling Basin – we're right at the top and it's incumbent on us to switch off the pollutants as best we can,” said Foley.

“If we work on the urban environment, we'll improve our lakes, but we'll also be improving the water that's going into the Murrumbidgee, which flows downstream and services a number of large regional towns, irrigators and environmental assets.” 

The second and final phase of the $93.5 million government project is now underway and will include up to 25 new infrastructure and water management projects, a community education campaign, improved catchment coordination, and monitoring and evaluation.

“What we're doing is focussing on retro-fitting established urban areas in the ACT,” Foley said. 

“The infrastructure includes wetlands, ponds, quite innovative bioretention systems, swales, channel reconnection and creek restoration projects.” 

The projects have been narrowed down from almost 200 proposals that were put to the community for feedback last year. 

“We've been speaking regularly to our community stakeholders and we're just about to go out again to community with our 25 priority projects to seek their feedback on any issues that might impact them before we go on to detailed design and construction,” Foley said.

Community drop-in sessions are being held throughout September and feedback can be provided online before 1 October.