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West Tuggeranong expansion ill-advised – for now

By John Hargreaves 4 May 2015 33

tuggeranong

Senator Zed Seselja’s proposal to change the planning responsibilities of the National Capital Authority and to promote building houses in West Tuggeranong has good bits and bad bits.

It sounds rather similar to what was espoused by the Carnell/Humphries Liberal government in 1997/98. Here we go again.

The good bit is that Seselja proposes that we have greater sovereignty over our land than has previously been the case. This can only be a good thing – the NCA should stick to those areas of significance and leave the rest of the land to the people who live here.

I remember after the bushfires of 2003, the settlements of Pierce’s Creek and Uriarra were decimated and all but obliterated. But up until then, those settlements were hardly sustainable communities. The NCA controlled Pierce’s Creek and the area around Uriarra.

Pop out there now and you will see a thriving community at Uriarra with more houses than before the fire. The ACT government changed the rules to allow the resurrection of Uriarra into a sustainable community, but the NCA refused to allow a greater number of buildings in Pierce’s Creek than was there before the fires.

The conventional wisdom at the time was that a community of at least 30 houses was required before a community could be sustainable in the long term. This consigned Pierce’s Creek to ghost town status and it is still the case. Those wanting a rural setting for their lifestyles and kids have to go elsewhere. Short sighted! This is one example of why the NCA should butt out.

So all power to Seselja in shrinking the influence of the NCA in areas unrelated to national significance – like the 200-metre buffer zones along all major thoroughfares. Nonsensical.

But now for the bad bit.

In 1997/98, it was proposed that the area west of the Murrumbidgee be opened up for housing development. There are vast tracts of land ideal for the construction of a number of new suburbs. It’s a good idea at face value, however, several environmental and economic concerns must be addressed first.

Firstly the environmental reasons. The western side of the Tuggeranong town centre borders the Murrumbidgee River corridor. This is a preserved space for a reason. The ecology is sensitive and requires appropriate management. The river is pristine in most parts, the bushland bordering the river is home to many an endangered species of flora and fauna and the river is part of our water catchment system. Keen eyes will catch platypus playing in the river at times, birds abound and reptiles scurry.

So let’s build a bridge across it to take vehicular traffic. Let’s build thousands of homes and drain the muck from building sites and completed homes into the river system. Try as I do, I can’t see this being avoided.

Animal and bird species will leave this corridor if they are surrounded by housing developments and the corridor will die. This is my fear for the Molonglo River when those suburbs of the Molonglo area are completed. The endangered species have been catered for in a certain sense by the limiting of the spread of suburbs but I’ll bet the little eagle moves on.

I don’t know of anywhere in the world where a nature reserve preserved in its pristine condition splits two parts of a town successfully.

The economic argument was and is that Tuggeranong is already a set of dormitory suburbs. The Valley does not have a sustainable economic base to cater for an influx of 25,000 people. In 1996, the federal government took 7,000 jobs out of the Tuggeranong valley alley and gutted it. We have only just begun to recover and it’s happening again. The issue is the dependence on the federal public sector for jobs.

We don’t have the combination of private sector and public sector economic opportunity that Woden, Civic and Belco have. Any change in fortune there is drastic, as Kim Fischer pointed out in relation to the withdrawal of the 4,000 Immigration jobs from the Belco town centre. Here in Tuggeranong, it would not only be drastic – it would be life threatening.

Until there is a sustainable economic environment, an alternative economic food chain to the public sector dependence, and employment opportunities for Tuggeranong to address the dormitory suburb nature of the Valley, any increase in housing is ill-advised.

I don’t want a return to 1997/98. It was proposed then and shelved. It should be shelved again. Groundhog Day!

Does Tuggeranong need more housing?

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33 Responses to
West Tuggeranong expansion ill-advised – for now
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wottaway 11:15 pm 07 May 15

As an immigrant/emigrant ‘Canberran’,’66-’73,all I can say after scrolling through some of this stuff is that there really was ‘the good ol’ days’ after all.One of these days I’ll go back armed with my ’64 map and see how I go….Angle Crossing,Point Hut Crossing,Pine Island,Coppins Crossing,from memory,they were all at the map limits.No smells anywhere near Bunyan,beautiful,pristine water for swimming at Casuarina Sands ….all was good.

rubaiyat 4:50 pm 07 May 15

Southmouth said :

“The river is pristine in most parts”
I think that myth is busted. Thanks Henry. An interesting read.

Didn’t take us long to ruin it.

Now that we succeeded in stuffing up the Murrumbidgee, lets ruin the rest! The always is the next.

I look forward to when we urgently “need” to subdivide Namadgi National Park because Canberra “needs” more housing developments, and the Brindabellas “have been ruined anyway” and the “essential” freeways have eaten up everything else.

Southmouth 3:38 pm 07 May 15

“The river is pristine in most parts”
I think that myth is busted. Thanks Henry. An interesting read.

JC 1:59 pm 07 May 15

HenryBG said :

JC said :

Your right water can be extracted from the Murrumbidgee with water discharged from Tantangara, but this is to top up Googong, not directly into the town water supply. Water can be pumped between the Cotter and Googong and vice versa..

That’s a new pipeline built 2.5 years ago since the height of the drought. Prior to that, they were pumping muddy water (including the waste water discharged into it at Cooma) out of the Murrumbidgee. This water was full of fine silt, easily detectable in a taste-test, and left a brown rim around your bath.

“Since May 2007, water has been extracted from the Murrumbidgee River near the Cotter River.143
This required the construction of two Murrumbidgee Pump Stations, the second being completed in
2009. Combined, these stations can pump up to 130ML/day from the Murrumbidgee River, flow
Water permitting, to the Cotter Pump Station and then on to the Mt Stromlo Water Treatment Plant.
As the water from the Murrumbidgee River is of much poorer in quality than that extracted from the
Bendora Reservoir, it requires additional water treatment to make it suitable for potable uses. The
reason for the poorer water quality is that the Murrumbidgee River area is not a protected
catchment and thus receives runoff from agricultural, industrial and urban sources. The catchment
includes the towns of Cooma, Numeralla and Bredbo, and the Tuggeranong urban area. The
river also carries recycled water from areas such as Cooma.”

https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/Infrastructure%20Report%20Cards/ACT/part3_water.pdf

p.49

That document is ancient history.

Water is primarily extracted from the Murrumbidgee from Angle Crossing (Completed in 2012) and is then sent to Googong via a new pipeline they construed. From Googong it settles and then gets treated and sent into the main supply. Though as mentioned Googong is now the secondary source of water for Canberra, wheras before the drought it was the primary source.

They can extract from the Murrumbidgee near the Cotter using the Cotter pumping station and the treatment plant,which was unused at the time, as the Cotter dam was out of action. Though since the Cotter has been enlarged and the Angle Crossing pumping station now in use and of course the drought over, the place they pump from the Murrumbidgee if needed is at Angle Crossing directly into Googong dam.

They can also reverse the flow of the pipe from Googong thus enabling transfer of water from the Cotter, Bendora and the Corin. They do this because the inflow into Googong is far less than the 3 in the Brindies, so if they are all full and Googong not full they can top Googong up rather than send excess down the Murrumbidgee.

HenryBG 12:49 pm 07 May 15

JC said :

Your right water can be extracted from the Murrumbidgee with water discharged from Tantangara, but this is to top up Googong, not directly into the town water supply. Water can be pumped between the Cotter and Googong and vice versa..

That’s a new pipeline built 2.5 years ago since the height of the drought. Prior to that, they were pumping muddy water (including the waste water discharged into it at Cooma) out of the Murrumbidgee. This water was full of fine silt, easily detectable in a taste-test, and left a brown rim around your bath.

“Since May 2007, water has been extracted from the Murrumbidgee River near the Cotter River.143
This required the construction of two Murrumbidgee Pump Stations, the second being completed in
2009. Combined, these stations can pump up to 130ML/day from the Murrumbidgee River, flow
Water permitting, to the Cotter Pump Station and then on to the Mt Stromlo Water Treatment Plant.
As the water from the Murrumbidgee River is of much poorer in quality than that extracted from the
Bendora Reservoir, it requires additional water treatment to make it suitable for potable uses. The
reason for the poorer water quality is that the Murrumbidgee River area is not a protected
catchment and thus receives runoff from agricultural, industrial and urban sources. The catchment
includes the towns of Cooma, Numeralla and Bredbo, and the Tuggeranong urban area. The
river also carries recycled water from areas such as Cooma.”

https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/Infrastructure%20Report%20Cards/ACT/part3_water.pdf

p.49

JC 9:02 am 07 May 15

I was looking at the land release program for Canberra last night and interestingly in the context of this thread and some suggestions about infill etc I saw that the percentage of infill released is in fact increasing with the forecast indictating 55% of blocks released in a few years time will in fact be infill with no overall drop off in the number of blocks released. Very few in Tuggeranong though.

JC 4:36 pm 06 May 15

HenryBG said :

JesterNoir said :

Our water tastes better than anywhere else in the world because of the clean filtering through those mountains and hills.

The lovely Canberra water you drink mostly comes from Googong, the rest coming from the Bendora/Corin/Cotter dams.

In times of drought, they sometimes resort to pumping water out of the foetid, murky, muddy Murrumbidgee, which is when you get grit in your teeth and mud in your bath.

The Murrumbidgee is already a slow-moving channel full of slurry. Development would surely improve it.

I notice somebody above is already looking for legless moths or some other such excuse to oppose progress, though, with some hilarious talk of the “pristine Murrumbidgee”…

And whoever is suggesting the development would be on the Bullen range is off their rocker – that is a Nature Reserve. The land that will be developed is West and South of Bullen and just needs a bit of re-zoning.

Not quite right. Up until the drought the bulk of the water did come out of Googong, but they have since changed to using the Bendora/Corin system as the primary source and more recently the Cotter. Your right water can be extracted from the Murrumbidgee with water discharged from Tantangara, but this is to top up Googong, not directly into the town water supply. Water can be pumped between the Cotter and Googong and vice versa.

However the brown water that people can occasionally get is not from dirty dam water, it is normally because of dirt entering during a burst water main etc.

HenryBG 2:10 pm 06 May 15

JesterNoir said :

Our water tastes better than anywhere else in the world because of the clean filtering through those mountains and hills.

The lovely Canberra water you drink mostly comes from Googong, the rest coming from the Bendora/Corin/Cotter dams.

In times of drought, they sometimes resort to pumping water out of the foetid, murky, muddy Murrumbidgee, which is when you get grit in your teeth and mud in your bath.

The Murrumbidgee is already a slow-moving channel full of slurry. Development would surely improve it.

I notice somebody above is already looking for legless moths or some other such excuse to oppose progress, though, with some hilarious talk of the “pristine Murrumbidgee”…

And whoever is suggesting the development would be on the Bullen range is off their rocker – that is a Nature Reserve. The land that will be developed is West and South of Bullen and just needs a bit of re-zoning.

Southmouth 1:57 pm 06 May 15

dungfungus said :

Southmouth said :

I’m for it. Go Zed. Anything that will help revitalise Tuggeranong must be good. The river is a long way from pristine, full of farm chemicals and sewage from upstream. Apart from the 2km south of Kambah, a bridge could be built anywhere. Pine Island Bridge has a nice ring to it

“full of farm chemicals and sewage from upstream.”
Do you have any reporeeets to verify this?
Water to supplement supplies in Googong Dam (one of our sources of drinking water) are pumped from the river not far upstream at Angle Crossing so I wouldn’t be happy to accept what you are saying.

What i can tell you is this;
The Murrumbidgee effectively begins below Tantangara dam as the vast majority of the dams catchment is transferred to Eucumbene and not released into the river below. All but a few km of the river between the dam and Point Hut Crossing is through farmland and this is the true catchment of the river as we experience it in Canberra, along with tributaries like the Numerella river which drains a big portion of the Monaro
Chemicals like 2-4D and numerous fertilisers are in common use and can only go one way when it rains. Some of the farms are of the intensive variety right on the rivers edge.
The Cooma sewage treatment plant drains into the Murrumbidgee via Cooma creek and the smell can be enjoyed on a winters morning on the way to the snow by opening the vent on your car as one crosses said creek at Bunyan.
It’s ok though because the Googong transfers will only take place when there are additional releases from Tantangara so the sh1t and endocrine disruptors will be much more diluted than the swimmers at Kambah Pools are accustomed to.

User777 10:47 am 06 May 15

So long as they ban cats out there, develop away!

dungfungus 9:37 am 06 May 15

Southmouth said :

I’m for it. Go Zed. Anything that will help revitalise Tuggeranong must be good. The river is a long way from pristine, full of farm chemicals and sewage from upstream. Apart from the 2km south of Kambah, a bridge could be built anywhere. Pine Island Bridge has a nice ring to it

“full of farm chemicals and sewage from upstream.”
Do you have any reports to verify this?
Water to supplement supplies in Googong Dam (one of our sources of drinking water) are pumped from the river not far upstream at Angle Crossing so I wouldn’t be happy to accept what you are saying.

dungfungus 8:53 am 06 May 15

rubaiyat said :

Southmouth said :

I’m for it. Go Zed. Anything that will help revitalise Tuggeranong must be good. The river is a long way from pristine, full of farm chemicals and sewage from upstream. Apart from the 2km south of Kambah, a bridge could be built anywhere. Pine Island Bridge has a nice ring to it

No half measures!

We need to go for the Zed Seselja Dam just downstream of Kambah Pool and flood The Valley.

It would give water security to all of Tuggeranong and remove the threat of Trams to the Tuggers Way of Life.

A flooded valley could revitalise Tuggeranong as Australia’s first floating suburb. Although there is an admitted danger that it could cause an outbreak of Gondolaphobia on the slopes of Mt Wanniassa.

That failed experiment in retailing, the Hyperdome, could be relaunched as the Hydrodome a tourist attraction demonstrating the local skills in Carp Wrangling.

I see Tuggeranongians waterskiing and jet skiing to work, with the more exercise minded in bright yellow paddle boats. The morning peak hour will make D-Day look like a school outing.

I am sure with Canberra’s, and particularly Tuggeranong’s, strong sense of opportunity, these and many more ideas will be seized eagerly and impatiently, carrying us forward into the 21st century the way our proud pioneering forefathers crossed this continent in their government subsidised covered Kingswoods to settle the New Land!

Those mushrooms are working overtime.

Rustygear 7:14 am 06 May 15

I agree with the caution of the author and with those commenters who dislike the sound of more suburban sprawl. Infill is the way to go, and for Canberra there is plenty of space for that. Such as redevelopment of the land around EPIC and the racecourse in north Canberra, and the vast pine plantation area along Tuggeranong Parkway between the lake and Weston Creek. Let’s do all that first, and then only after that, talk about creating more far-flung underserviced suburbs miles from anywhere.

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