By Terry Kiernan
Canberra doesn’t need to be hoodwinked by illusions, we need clear, concise facts to help us make informed decisions, says Canberra’s Traditional owners.
At the recent community water2water forums, ACTEW failed to dispel public concern over the lack of information being supplied in respect to Canberra’s future water options. It was pointed out to ACTEW that in its final future water options report in 2005 and restated in 2006, to the ACT Government; there is NO suggestion that Canberra needed to recycle treated sewage effluent to support the Territories water supply.
In fact, ACTEW’s future water options report contains only three preferred options; 1), enlarge the Cotter Dam, 2), divert water from the Tantangara Dam and 3), build the Tennent Dam.
Option two was discarded because it was discovered that the waters of the Tantangara Dam are already committed to down stream irrigators.
Option three was also subsequently discarded by ACTEW on the grounds that the Tennent Catchment is a poorer performing catchment than the Cotter Catchment. While this premise is correct, the difference is only marginal. The Tennent catchment has a run-off yield of up to 1.4 million litres per hectare compared to a reduced Cotter catchment run-off yield of 1.8 million litres per hectare.
In calculating the Cotter catchment yield, ACTEW stated that it expected the Cotter catchment to lose up to 40 percent of its ‘former’ run-off due to climate change and bushfire regeneration. With a ‘former’ catchment run-off yield of 155 billion litres, a 40 percent reduction would actually take the Cotter’s annual run-off yield to just 83 billion litres.
The ACT’s Think Water Act Water resources management plan identifies the storage capacity of the existing Corin, Bendora and Cotter dams to be 91.7 billion litres. With a projected annual run-off yield of 83 billion litres, one must then ask, why do we need to enlarge the Cotter dam?
The water2water forums revealed public concern at the amount of water being released as environmental flows from the Corin Dam. According to the ACT Governments Think Water Act Water resources management plan, ACTEW is obliged to release up to 19.2 billion litres of water from the Corin Dam to sustain the Corin to Bendora riverine ecosystem. With water already being released from the Corin dam to flow down to the Bendora Dam for transfer to Canberra, one could ask, “Does the Cotter River between Corin and Bendora dam really need this extra environmental allocation?”
In a climate of diminishing rainfall Canberra’s poorest performing catchment, the Googong Dam, ACTEW increased its water resource yield by almost 40 percent. Regrettably with only 15 of the 31 catchments that make up Canberra’s water resources have gauging stations to validate their resource projections; one could ask, “How accurate then are ACTEW’s water resource projections?”
The failure of both ACTEW and the ACT Government to consult with Canberra’s Traditional owners on a matter as vital as water has disappointed the Ngunawal Native Title Claimant Group. Canberra’s Traditional owners have sought to promote smart technologies with proven outcomes to reduce water usage. At the same time, they support the construction of the Tennent Dam with the aim of returning more water to the rivers by ensuring Canberra’s future water security.
If you are genuinely interested in water conservation and returning these water savings back to the environment then please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and register your support for the Ngunawal Water Conservation Plan.