A $30 million water infrastructure program and the creation of an ACT Water Office form part of the Greens $33 million environment election package.
The promise includes funding for new wetlands, rain gardens, ponds, swales and restoration projects for Canberra’s water catchments, and increased funding for weed removal across the city’s waterways.
A total of $800,000 over four years will be allocated to community catchment groups Waterwatch and Frogwatch, which look after the Upper Murrumbidgee and Ginninderra catchments respectively.
“We must respect our precious water and restore our beautiful waterways,” ACT Greens Environment spokesperson and Ginninderra candidate Jo Clay said.
“Canberra is experiencing the impacts of climate change. This means we will get more severe droughts and more frequent floods.
“We need to make sure our city is adapting to cope and we need to start looking after our natural resources.”
The ACT Water Office will be used to manage, report and take action on water quality in the ACT, and will be in charge of rolling out large-scale infrastructure programs such as the current Healthy Waterways project.
The Office will cost $200,000 a year over the next four years.
An inquiry into the state of the ACT’s lakes and waterways will be conducted by the Commissioner for Environment and Sustainability while an Indigenous River and Catchment Rangers program will also be implemented.
The program will allow rangers to work alongside the Indigenous community to manage water health and implement cultural and traditional knowledge into the Territory’s water management plans.
“Over a century ago, the founders of Canberra designed this city to have a reliable water supply. Yet poor urban planning and an outdated view that treats water as a waste product has led to murky, unhealthy and polluted aquatic environments,” ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said.
“The Greens are committed to protecting our environment and everything that depends on it. We need to treat water as part of the urban ecosystem, not separate from it.”
The announcement follows last month’s $53 million policy urban biodiversity and conservation plan as the Greens set up the environment as an election battleground.
The new environment package follows the Liberal-Labor tit-for-tat over tree policy in the ACT after the Opposition promised to plant one million trees across the Territory over the next decade.