Executive Summary

TAMS manages a water monitoring and assessment program for the ACT that includes water quality, streamflow monitoring, and biological monitoring. This information is used to determine whether management strategies used to achieve or maintain the aquatic values set for ACT waters are appropriate.

The report is intended to provide the community with information regarding the state of water resources in the ACT. The assessment approach adopted is designed to move towards a more holistic ecosystem health monitoring system as prescribed by the Murray Darling Basin Commission’s Sustainable River Audit. It uses biological data to ascertain ecosystem diversity, water quality data to determine trends that may be present and compares these results with the designated environmental and use values and standards set in the Territory Plan and Environment Protection Act 1997 and its regulations. Streamflow monitoring is used to gauge the impact of removing water from the environment for other uses.

Water quality is monitored in the major urban lakes (with the exception of Lake Burley Griffin, a Commonwealth responsibility) and Burrinjuck Reservoir, which is immediately downstream of the ACT. The major rivers and some urban streams are also monitored. River flow is measured at a number of sites throughout the ACT.

Rainfall for the 2001-2002 reporting period was below the long term average. Streamflow measured in the major streams and rivers was generally below the long term average.

The report uses the biological information to report the biodiversity in the rivers. The sampling data is analysed, determining any trends that may be present for the period 1992-2002. The individual data points and median values for the year are considered with reference made to the standards set out in the Territory Plan and Environment Protection Act 1997. For flow dependent indicators, a flow concentration relationship is also used for comparison with the standards.

Lakes and streams in the ACT are in relatively good condition. The main impacts on water quality in the urban area appear to relate to land development with urban run-off carrying suspended sediment and nutrients.

Lake Ginninderra water quality is good, with a discernible improvement in water quality conditions through the lake, and thus in the water that is released into Ginninderra Creek. Conditions in Lake Tuggeranong are fair. Sediment and turbidity as well as nutrient values remain high, caused primarily by urban runoff. Point Hut Pond has poor water quality with elevated levels of turbidity and suspended solids. Runoff from residential development in the Point Hut catchment is the most probable cause.

Water quality in the Molonglo River was also good with the median values comparing favourably with the water quality standards at monitored sites. Water condition in the Murrumbidgee River remains quite good showing that the ACT has minimal impact on the water quality in the river and land use practices appear to be fairly effective in minimising pollution from the ACT. Paddys River catchment is a combination of rural, forestry and conservation land uses. The water quality for Paddys River is fair.

For the first time some information is included on water resources including the volume of water in our rivers and streams, and the quantity abstracted. The Water Resources Act 1998 came into full effect in December 1999 and requires assessment of river flows, and licensing of water abstractions. Since that time considerable progress has been made implementing the provisions of the Act. Most notably, all water use, except stock and domestic use from surface water is now required to be licensed. This includes all use from bores. Challenges remain, particularly in identifying all bores so that the Environment Protection Authority’s policy of accurately measuring all licensed water use can be implemented.


The full water report is available for download below:

ACT Water Quality Report 2001-2002 (4.3Mb)