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Canberra

                                                                                                   

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This page explains how legislation, plans and provisions are applied for surface, ground and environmental water. It also lists the organisations responsible for water management in this region.

 

Water Management, Legislation, Plans and Provisions

Surface Water and Groundwater

Water legislation

ACT
The Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT) provides for the management of surface water and groundwater resources within the ACT state boundaries through the issuing of Water Access Entitlements (WAEs) and water licences.

The Territory Plan 2008 provides the policy framework for the administration of planning in the ACT. It also details the management policies for each environmental value for each catchment and serves as an umbrella document for the 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines.

Lake Burley Griffin is a Commonwealth Government responsibility and is administered under the Commonwealth Lakes Act 1976.

NSW
The Water Act 1912 (NSW) governs the management of surface water and groundwater resources within NSW.

 

Water management plans

ACT
The Canberra region was broken up into 14 separate water management areas (WMA) managed by the Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water. Within these 14 WMA are 32 sub-catchment areas. Each of these WMA is consistent with the planning framework of the Territory Plan 2008. The first Territory Plan came into effect in October 1993. Some of these areas fall outside the ACT state boundaries, however the ACT has an interest in these areas as they supply water to, or flow through, the ACT. The ACT manages the sections of these WMA that fall within ACT boundaries. The WMA boundaries are shown in Figure A1.


Figure A1. Map of water management areas in the Canberra region

Figure A1. Map of water management areas in the Canberra region

 

WMA cover both surface water and groundwater resources. Within each WMA, maximum surface water plus groundwater take was set. The management of WMA is dictated by the primary environmental value of the sub-catchment. Sub-catchments within ACT boundaries were assigned one of three potential primary environmental values:

  1. conservation
  2. water supply
  3. drainage and open space.

The management policies for each type of catchment are detailed in section 11.8 of the Territory Plan 2008 (ACT).

The WMA in the Canberra region, their associated maximum surface water and groundwater take threshold, and their primary environmental value are shown in Table A1.

 

Table A1. Water management areas in the Canberra region during 2009–10

Water management area

Maximum surface water plus groundwater available for abstraction (ML)2

Maximum groundwater available for abstraction (ML)1

Sub-catchment areas1

Primary environmental Value

Upper Murrumbidgee3

 

25174

640

Michelago3

Conservation

Tharwa

Conservation

Kambah

Conservation

Guises

Conservation

Tennent

Conservation

Lower Murrumbidgee

29,925

189

Uriarra

Conservation

Woodstock

Conservation

Naas

2641

855

Naas

Conservation

Gudgenby

3558

1170

Gudgenby

Conservation

Cotter

111,408

2050

Corin

Water supply

Bendora

Water supply

Lower Cotter

Water supply

Paddys

2905

909

Paddys

Drainage

Tuggeranong

1461

190

Tuggeranong

Drainage

Upper Molonglo

102

24

Upper Molonglo

Conservation

Central Molonglo

7832

685

Kowen

Conservation

Fyshwick

Conservation

Jerrabomberra

Drainage and open space

Lake Burley Griffith

Conservation

Woolshed

Drainage and open space

Sullivans

Drainage and open space

Lower Molonglo

3304

297

Coppins

Conservation

Wooden

Drainage and open space

Weston

Drainage and open space

Lower Queanbeyan

7

0

Lower Queanbeyan

Conservation

Jerrabomberra headwaters

0

0

Jerrabomberra headwaters

Not managed by ACT

Googong catchment

98,914

0

Tinderry

Not managed by ACT

Googong

Not managed by ACT

Burra

Not managed by ACT

Ginninderra

5352

239

Gungahlin

Drainage and open space

Lake Ginninderra

Drainage and open space

 

Parkwood

Drainage and open space

Total

269,926

 

 

 

  1. NWC 2010b
  2. ACT Government 2007
  3. Only part of this area or sub-catchment is contained within the Canberra region
  4. This maximum take includes an allowance for those parts of the WMA that lie outside the Canberra region.

NSW
The NSW Government has not declared any WMA or created any water management plans for the Canberra region. The NSW Government intends to encompass all of NSW by a water sharing plan and this process is currently underway.

The Groundwater Management Areas (GMA) in the NSW part of the Canberra region are currently subject to embargos that do not allow for new groundwater licences to be issued unless exemption criteria are met. The two embargos are listed in                 Table A2.

Table A2. Groundwater embargos impacting the Canberra region

Groundwater management area

Embargo

Lachlan Fold Belt GMA

 

New South Wales Inland Groundwater Shortage Zones Order No. 2 2008

 

Mid and Upper Murrumbidgee Fractured Rock GMA, Yass Catchment

New South Wales Inland Groundwater Shortage Zones Order No. 1 2008

 

Environmental Water

Environmental water legislation

Environmental water within the Canberra region is managed by the ACT Government Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water. The Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT) provides for the identification and management of water for ecosystems which are identified in the 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines.

Environmental water in the Canberra region is delivered in two ways, by:

  • releases from storages
  • putting restrictions on the volume of water that can be abstracted from a catchment (NWC 2010a).

The 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines provide guidance on ecological objectives, environmental flow components and environmental flow requirements for the region.

Environmental water provisions

Environmental water provisions are the responsibility of the relevant ACT Minister and are administered and managed through the ACT Environmental Protection Authority (EPA). 

The 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines is the primary document which outlines environmental water provisions in the ACT. The purpose of the guidelines are to identify the ‘components’ of flow from the variable flow regime that are necessary to maintain stream health (National Water Commission 2010a).

The 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines break down each of the 14 WMA’s, and 32 sub-catchments outlined in the Territory Plan 2008 into four different ecosystem/catchment types. These areas establish broad ecological objectives at a catchment level within the region. The objectives are detailed in Table A3 below.

Table A3. Ecosystem categories and ecological objectives in the ACT
Category of aquatic ecosystem Description Management goal Water bodies in this category
Natural ecosystems(conservation catchments) Ecosystems that persisted in a relatively pristine condition Primary goal: maintain aquatic ecosystems in their pristine stateSecondary goals: range of functions including recreation Water bodies in Namadgi National Park, excepting the Cotter River catchmentWater bodies in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Water supply ecosystems(water supply catchments) Ecosystems in catchments designated to provide the ACT water supply Primary goal: provide water supplySecondary goals: range of functions including conservation and recreation Water bodies in the Cotter River catchmentGoogong foreshore area and Queanbeyan River downstream of Googong Dam
Modified ecosystems(conservation catchments) Ecosystems modified by catchment activities (land use change, discharges) or by changes to the flow regime Range of functions including recreation, conservation and irrigation All water bodies not included in the other three categories, includes Murrumbidgee and Molonglo Rivers and Lake Burley Griffin
Created ecosystems(drainage and open space catchments) Ecosystems in urban lakes, ponds and streams that developed as a result of urbanisation Range of functions including recreation, conservation and irrigation Water bodies within the urban area excluding the Molonglo River

 Source: 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines, ACT Government 2006b

The 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines also identify four components of environmental flow to be maintained within these ecosystem types. These are provided below in Table A4.

 

Table A4. Environmental flow components for the Canberra region
Environmental flow component Description Example flow requirement
Base flow Quantity of water that flows down a waterway during periods between rainfall events
  • Specified flow volume or percentile flow (e.g: 80th percentile monthly flow)
  • Groundwater extraction limited to a percentage of the long-term recharge
Flooding flows Increases in streamflow following storm events that are important for maintenance of aquatic ecosystems and channel structure. These include:
  • riffle maintenance flows
  • pool maintenance flows
  • channel maintenance flows
  • Specified volume and duration  
  • Protection of nominated percentage of volume in events greater than a nominated percentile flow (e.g: 90% of volume in events above 80th percentile flow)
  •        
Special purpose flows Volumes of water designed to meet specific ecosystem requirements, for example, the inundation of a wetland
  • Nominated flow volume during a nominated timeframe (e.g: 50th percentile monthly flow during Spring months)
Maintenance of impoundment levels Maintenance of water levels in lakes, ponds and reservoirs to protect the ecosystem of the waterbody
  • Limited drawdown range for waterbodies.

Source: 2006 Environmental Flow Guidelines, ACT Government 2006b

Organisations responsible for water management

The organisations that are responsible for water management within the Canberra region are detailed in Table A5.

 

Table A5. Organisations responsible for water management in the Canberra region during 2009–10
Organisation Role Major storage managed by organisation
ACT Government, Department of Environment, Climate Change, Energy and Water (DECCEW) Water resource management in ACTApprove trades of water within and external to ACTGrant water entitlementsManage and monitor environmental flows  
ACT Electricity and Water (ACTEW) Urban water supplyManage and maintain water supply infrastructure Corin ReservoirCotter ReservoirBendora ReservoirGoogong Reservoir
ActewAGL Water distribution, wastewater collection and wastewater recycling infrastructure operator on behalf of ACTEW  
NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water* Environmental managementWater quality, water pollution and treatmentWetland conservation and managementSecuring water for the environment  
NSW Office of Water Setting policy, necessary legal instruments and overseeing mechanisms to manage water in the region  
ACT Government, Department of Territory and Municipal Services Planning and management of ACT’s parks, reserves, forestry plantations and public domains (ACT Government 2006a) Lake GinninderraLake Tuggeranong
National Capital Authority Manage Lake Burley Griffin Lake Burley Griffin
Queanbeyan City Council Urban water distribution in Queanbeyan region  
Palerang Council Urban water distribution in Captains Flat  

*NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water was current during the 2009–10 reporting period, but since then was replaced by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.