ACT Healthy Waterways Project

The ACT Healthy Waterways Project was a joint initiative of the Australian and ACT governments to protect and improve long-term water quality in the ACT and further downstream in the Murrumbidgee River system.

Part of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and with a budget of over $80 million, the project is reducing the level of nutrients, sediment and pollutants entering our lakes and waterways.

It has involved the construction of a range of infrastructure - ponds, wetlands, rain gardens and swales as well as creek restoration and channel reconnection - designed to ‘turn off’ or reduce the amount of nutrients, sediment and pollutants entering our waterways. The focus is on improving water quality higher up in the catchment where rainwater becomes stormwater.


Twenty infrastructure projects have been constructed and two research projects conducted across six priority catchments:

  • the established catchment of Lake Tuggeranong
  • the established catchment of Yarralumla Creek
  • the developing catchment of Upper Molonglo
  • the developing catchment of Lower Molonglo
  • the developing catchment of West Belconnen
  • the industrialised Fyshwick catchment.

A carefully balanced combination of factors was considered when selecting the projects, underpinned by thorough scientific research and consultation with technical experts, government and the broader community. The factors considered included:

  • the predicted water quality outcomes each option would generate
  • the cost of building and maintaining infrastructure over its lifetime
  • potential environmental impacts and site-specific practical constraints
  • broader economic costs and benefits, social values and community preferences (PDF 1.85MB).

Construction began in 2017 and civil works were completed at all 20 projects in June 2019. A two year macrophytes (water quality plants) establishment period has commenced.

Establishment period refers to the process by which a plant becomes established in a new habitat.