The management and protection of the Australian Capital Territory’s water resources is a key priority of the ACT Government. The ACT is wholly situated within the Murrumbidgee River Catchment, which feeds into Murray-Darling Basin – Australia’s largest river system and also one of the world’s driest. As the largest population centre in the Basin, the ACT will continue to be an active and responsible participant in managing the precious and finite water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Environment and Planning Directorate has several roles in managing water in the ACT. This includes responsibility for high-level strategic water policy development, with the national water reform agenda and national competition issues relating to water access, pricing and trading. In addition, the Directorate regulates the Territory’s water resources, monitors and reports on water quality in the ACT. The Directorate also has a role in the demand management of water resources to ensure water is available and water is used wisely.
The Directorate can also help you with information on how to use less water in your home, your garden or your business.
ACT Water Strategy
The ACT Water Strategy 2014-44: Striking the Balance (ACT Water Strategy) details the Government’s vision for water management in the ACT over the next 30 years:
“a community working together, managing water wisely to support a vibrant, sustainable and thriving community”.
The ACT Water Strategy provides long term strategic guidance to management the Territory’s water resources.
Water Policy Drivers
There are a number of national policy drivers that shape the management of water in the Territory. A prime driver is the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (2012) which provides a coordinated approach to water use across the four Murray-Darling Basin states and the ACT and the related Murray-Darling Basin Agreement. Under the Basin Plan water use is limited to environmentally sustainable levels. The ACT is the only jurisdiction that sits completely within the Murray-Darling Basin.
The Water Resources Act 2007 is the governing legislation for managing water resources in the ACT, defining access rights to surface and ground water resources, environmental flow provisions, water licensing requirements, resource management and monitoring responsibilities and setting penalties for water-related offences.