The ABC is reporting that the ACT Government will spend $2 million this year to begin to drought-proof Canberra’s sporting ovals.
Sports Minister Andrew Barr made the announcement at today’s Sustaining Sport in a Drought Environment symposium and said the funding was the first step in ensuring no facilities would be solely reliant on potable water by 2013.
“The ACT Government has been working with sport and recreation organisations for some months in order to prepare our industry for Stage 4 water restrictions,” Mr Barr said.
“While some promising mid-year rain won us some breathing space, it is clear that times have changed and we need to find a way forward for our facilities that sees sport and recreation continue to occur – but in a way that is sustainable.
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“Today – as a result of this collaborative work – the Government has announced we will invest $2 million to support our sport and recreation industry toward more sustainable facilities.”
Mr Barr said the funding would be used by Government to fund a master plan for all ovals and for diagnostic studies for major sportsgrounds to assess their maintenance needs, and the rest would be distributed as capital grants to sporting organisations to assist them to become more water-wise.
“While we recognise that there is no single magic solution to the drought-proofing of our sporting facilities, Government and the industry must work collaboratively to be innovative and progressive in exploring options and striving towards this vision,” Mr Barr said.
“These funds will allow the Government to develop a master-plan that will guide the long-term development of water sustainable sporting facilities and diagnostic work to assess the maintenance needs of our ovals under these conditions.
“The rest of this money – more than $1.6 million – will be rolled into a capital grants round to be opened this weekend for sports to apply to undertake water sustainability projects.
“Up to $750,000 will be made available to pilot a synthetic surface so that we can fully assess the suitability of such surfaces for our sporting community. Around $500,000 will be provided for additional lighting infrastructure at prioritised sporting facilities to ensure that more of those facilities which are most highly used can provide maximum access for participation.
“This investment is the first step in ensuring our community can continue to be active, and that our sport and recreation industry is supported in the transition to sustainable practices.”
Mr Barr said the preliminary funding was part of a long term plan.
“By 2013 no public or private sports ground in the ACT will rely soley on potable water,” he said.
The remaining money will be made available for grants for sports groups.
Mr Barr says the funding is just the start of a long-term project, with more money expected from the ACT and Federal Governments, as well as input from sporting groups.
“My expectation is that it will be in the order of $20 to $30 million over the next five years,” he said.
“That would be the level of government contribution.
“Although we’ve commissioned a report as part of the announcement today to get a much more detailed analysis of that cost.”