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National Water Account 2016

Canberra: Water Management

The management of surface water and groundwater resources in the Canberra region is described in the Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT) and Water Management Act 2000 (NSW). The region is divided into 14 water management areas. The ACT Government manages the areas within ACT boundaries while the NSW Government manages the rest outside the ACT boundaries.

 

Surface water and groundwater management

Water legislation

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT) provides for the management of surface water and groundwater resources within the ACT through the issuing of water access entitlements 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 environmental values in every catchment and serves as an umbrella document for the 2013 Environmental flow guidelines. The ACT Water Strategy 2014–44: Striking the Balance (ACT Water Strategy) will guide management of the Territory’s water supply, management, and catchment practices over the next 30 years.

Lake Burley Griffin is an Australian Government responsibility and is administered by the National Capital Authority under the Lake Ordinance 1976.

 

New South Wales (NSW)

The Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) governs the management of surface and groundwater resources within New South Wales.

 

Water management plans

ACT

The Canberra region is divided into 14 water management areas (WMAs). The WMA boundaries are shown in Figure R11. There are 32 subcatchment areas within the WMAs. WMAs in the ACT are consistent with the planning framework of the Territory Plan 2008.  Some water management areas fall outside the ACT State boundaries; however, the ACT Government has an interest in these areas as they supply water to or flow through the ACT.

The ACT Government manages the WMAs that fall within ACT boundaries. The NSW Government manages the sections that fall outside the ACT boundaries.

 

Figure R11 Water management areas in the Canberra region
Figure R11 Water management areas in the Canberra region

 

WMAs in the ACT cover both surface water and groundwater resources. Within each WMA, maximum surface water plus groundwater abstractions were set. The management of each WMA is dictated by the primary environmental value of the subcatchments within that WMA. Subcatchments within the ACT boundaries are assigned one of three potential primary environmental values:

  • conservation
  • water supply
  • drainage and open space.

The management policies for each type of catchment are detailed in Section 11.8 of the Territory Plan 2008.

Table R1 shows the summary of WMAs in the Canberra region and their associated maximum surface water and groundwater abstraction limits.

 

Table R1 Water management areas in the Canberra region during the 2015–16 year
Water management areaMaximum available surface water for diversion plus groundwater for extraction
ML1
Maximum available groundwater for extraction
ML2
Upper Murrumbidgee32,5174640
Lower Murrumbidgee29,925189
Naas2,641855
Gudgenby3,5581,170
Cotter111,4082,050
Paddys2,905909
Tuggeranong1,461190
Upper Molonglo10224
Central Molonglo7,832685
Lower Molonglo3,304297
Lower Queanbeyan70
Jerrabomberra headwaters00
Googong catchment98,9140
Ginninderra5,352239
Total269,9267,248

Notes:

1Water Resources Act 2007 (ACT).
2National Water Commission 2011, Australian water markets report 2010–11, NWC, Canberra.
3Only part of the WMA is within the Canberra region.
4Maximum abstraction includes an allowance for those parts of the WMAs that lie outside the Canberra region.

 

NSW  

The Water Sharing Plan for the Murrumbidgee Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sources 2012 provides detailed information on granting and managing access licences: 'Part 7 Rules for granting access licences' and 'Part 8 Rules for managing access licences'.

 

Environmental water management

Environmental water legislation

ACT

Environmental water within the Canberra region is managed by the ACT Government's, Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD). The Water Resources Act 2007 provides for the identification and management of water for ecosystems which are identified in the 2013 Environmental flow guidelines.

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

The 2013 Environmental flow guidelines provide guidance on ecological objectives, environmental flow components, and environmental flow requirements for the region.

NSW

The Water Management Act 2000 recognises the following classes of environmental water:

  • environmental health water: water that is committed for fundamental ecosystem health at all times, and may not be taken or used for other purposes
  • supplementary environmental water: water that is committed for specified environmental purposes at specified times or in specified circumstances, but may, at other times and in other circumstances, be taken and used for other purposes
  • adaptive environmental water: water that, pursuant to an access licence, is committed for specified environmental purposes, either generally or at specified times or in specified circumstances.

For groundwater, planned environmental water is derived from the average annual rainfall recharge volumes and storage volumes as described in the Water Sharing Plan for the NSW Murray–Darling Basin Porous Rock Groundwater Sources  established under the Water Management Act 2000 and commenced in January 2012.

 

Environmental water provisions

ACT

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

The 2013 Environmental flow guidelines is the primary document which outlines environmental water provisions in the ACT. The purpose of the guidelines is to identify the components of flow from the variable flow regime that are necessary to maintain stream health.

The 2013 Environmental flow guidelines categorise each of the 14 WMAs and 32 subcatchments outlined in the Territory Plan 2008 as one of four possible aquatic ecosystem types and assigns each an environmental management goal. The ecosystem categories and their environmental management goals are described in the 2013 Environmental flow guidelines. The guidelines also identify four components of environmental flow to be maintained within these ecosystem types (see Environmental benefit note for more details).

NSW

Section 8 of the Water Management Act 2000 defines environmental water requirements. In addition to environmental water defined under section 8, Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water) recognises that a significant number of water access licences are purchased and/or held for an environmental purpose. This type of licensed environmental water is described in the Environmental Water Register as having a 'non-statutory' environmental purpose. A licence is classified as having a 'non-statutory' environmental purpose by agreement between DPI Water and the holder of the respective licence.

This register provides a record of:

  • licensed environmental water information
  • environmental water set aside as 'rules' in water sharing plans
  • environmental water use plans approved by the Minister.

The register also provides reports on:

  • the assignment of water allocations to and from adaptive environmental water access licences
  • changes in the share component of adaptive environmental water access licences over time.

 

Cultural water management

The Aboriginal Water Initiative was established in June 2012 to improve Aboriginal involvement and representation in water planning and management within NSW. The programme will allow DPI Water to commence monitoring the success of water sharing plans in meeting their statutory requirements for Aboriginal specific-performance indicators, including:

  • providing water for native title rights
  • recognising spiritual, social, customary and economic values of water to Aboriginal people.

 

Organisations responsible for water management

The organisations that are responsible for water management within the Canberra region are detailed in Table R2.

 

Table R2 Organisations responsible for water management in the Canberra region during the 2015–16 year
OrganisationResponsibilityMajor storages operated within the region
ACT Government, Environmental and Planning Directorate (EPD)
  • manages ACT water resources
  • approves water trades within and outside the ACT
  • grants water entitlements
  • manages and monitors environmental flows.
n/a
Icon Water (formerly ACTEW Water)
  • manages urban water supply
  • manages and maintains water supply infrastructure
  • operates water distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, and wastewater recycling infrastructure operator.
  • Corin Reservoir
  • Cotter Reservoir
  • Bendora Reservoir
  • Googong Reservoir
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
  • manages the environment
  • manages water quality, water pollutions and water treatment
  • conserves and manage wetlands
  • secures water for the environment.
n/a
DPI Water (formerly NSW Office of Water)
  • sets policy and necessary legal instruments and oversees mechanisms to manage water within NSW.
n/a
ACT Government, Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS)
  • plans and manages ACT's parks, reserves, forestry plantations, and public domains.
  • Lake Ginninderra
  • Lake Tuggeranong
Environmental Protection Authority (ACT)n/a
National Capital Authority
  • manages Lake Burley Griffin.
  • Lake Burley Griffin
Queanbeyan City Council
  • distributes urban water in Queanbeyan region.
n/a
Palerang Council
  • distributes urban water in Captains Flat.
n/a