The Australian Government has signed an agreement with the Australian Capital Territory that will see up to $85 million of Australian Government funds available to help clean up Canberra’s lakes and waterways.

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 today in Canberra. 

 “Establishing an innovative and comprehensive water quality monitoring system will help guide significant improvement in the overall health of waterways in and around the nation’s capital,” Senator Birmingham said.

“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.

“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 project will focus on six priority catchments that account for 74 per cent of total run-off and 54 per cent of total pollutant load in ACT waterways.

“The Australian Government is committed to working with the states and territories to implement water quality improvement.  This is an important part of the overall Basin Plan, which we will implement on time and in full,” said Senator Birmingham.

ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, welcomed the agreement.

“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,” Mr Corbell said.

“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.

“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,” Mr Corbell said.

The first two years of the project will involve enhanced water quality monitoring and data analysis of priority catchments to better inform a targeted program of future infrastructure works such as constructed wetlands, bio-retention systems and sedimentation systems to better manage the impact of urban run-off.