Letter to Editor Canberra Times – published 20th May 2007
Canberra may not need water restrictions if less water had been released for environmental flows and a change in the environmental flows policy may remove the need for the ACT to build more dams and recycle drinking water.
Reports on environmental flows from storages say that environmental flows are meant to maintain the aquatic ecosystem in the river system below the dams. For Canberra water storages this would apply to the Murrumbidgee below the Cotter junction and the Cotter and Molonglo below the dams. As we are told that 60% of the water used by Canberra is recycled into the Murrumbidgee then there is no need for extra environmental flows for the health of the Murrumbidgee aquatic ecosystem. This means that the environmental flows needed are for the Molonglo and the Cotter. It is reported in the Canberra Times that in 2007 the environmental flows are going to be 3.5 gigaliters. This would appear to be enough to maintain the ecosystems in the Molonglo and the Cotter. If we had released 3.5 gigalitres yearly since 2001 then on the numbers reported in the CT on 17th May our dams would be at 75% and perhaps we may only be thinking about stage 2 restrictions.
There may be other reasons for releasing large quantities of water from our storages but it unlikely that maintaining the health of the aquatic ecosystem is one of them. Given this why hasn’t the government asked Actew to include reducing environmental flows in its Water2Water options.