Simon Corbell yesterday opened the Dickson wetlands with some fanfair:
Improved water quality, flood protection and an oasis for local flora and fauna are among the benefits of the newly constructed wetland in Dickson, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, announced at the official opening today.
“The Dickson wetland will provide multiple benefits for the local community and the environment as well as reducing reliance on non-potable water for irrigation purposes,” Mr Corbell said.
“The $10.1 million investment into both the Dickson wetland and Lyneham ponds, will contribute to improving water quality in the Sullivans Creek catchment by reducing nitrogen, phosphorous and suspended solids. They will also work to slow the flow of water in the sub-catchment, which will help protect downstream areas from flooding.”
Mr Corbell said the increase in habitat areas will be provided with locally occurring trees, shrubs, ground covers, grasses and aquatic plants being planted around and in the pond.
“In addition, the Dickson wetland, along with Lyneham ponds, will capture on average 430 mega litres of excess stormwater per year though pump stations at each site to irrigate playing fields,” he said.
But to whom do we owe this nirvana?
Well the Greens’ Shane Rattenbury doesn’t want his party’s role to be forgotten:
Accelerating the program of replacing stormwater drains with urban creek and
wetland systems was part of the Parliamentary Agreement the ALP signed with the Greens in 2008 after plans stalled for seven years, due to lack of funding.
“The Greens are very pleased with the outcome at the Dickson Wetland site, where the native birdlife is flourishing, frogs can be heard each day and many people are using it regularly as a rest and relaxation site,” Mr Rattenbury said.
“This Parliamentary Agreement item was one of the first to be completed after funding was included in the 2009 budget, identifying almost $14m for Lyneham, O’Connor and Dickson Wetland sites.
Which is all very nice, and no doubt the sites will be popular in the future.
But let’s not kid ourselves on a few things.
Firstly stormwater harvesting in an inland city is just me-tooism because the kids in the coastal cities are doing it.
Every drop of storm water we conserve in a drought situation is water we have to let out of our potable water storages to maintain environmental flows in the rivers leading out of the ACT.
(Whereas in a coastal city fresh water is actually lost when stormwater flows into the sea)
Secondly the concrete drain was superb at reducing flood risk by very quickly depositing water into Lake Burley Griffin.
The new system, retaining water in the system for longer is massively increasing flood risk along the creek.
(There may be some issues where they’re building the Molonglo development in which case the wetlands are keeping more floodwater potential in the Inner North in order to make up for bad planning in an unbuilt area).
Inner Northicans can already see that rainfall which used to clear in hours now sees the creek flow for days.
Which can be seen as a win for creating new environments, but not for reducing flood risk.
The environmental benefits and amenity of a nice series of pretty water holes might well be great.
But let’s remember this has come at a cost, particularly in Lyneham where large numbers of mature trees were bulldozed to create a landscaped environment.
[Photo Courtesy of Simon Corbell’s office]