Two new water quality research projects will shed light on management actions to improve water quality in Lake Tuggeranong and the ACT’s urban ponds and wetlands.

The research projects, jointly funded by the Australian and ACT Governments as part of the $93.5 million ACT Healthy Waterways Project, are being carried out by the Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra. Today, Senator for the ACT Zed Seselja and ACT Minister for the Environment and Heritage Mick Gentleman visited UC to see the testing being carried out.

“The research of water from Lake Tuggeranong will help us understand where the nutrients that cause poor water quality, including blue-green algae outbreaks, come from and how they behave once they are in the lake. Then the project can determine what interventions will work best,” Senator Seselja said.

“In the ACT, the Australia Government is contributing up to $76 million for the construction of key water infrastructure projects to improve long-term water quality for communities right across the country.

“Not only does poor water quality prevent people from enjoying the lake, it also adversely affects the lake’s ecosystem and the downstream rivers that provide important inflows to the Murray–Darling system.

“The research complements the investment in water quality infrastructure including new wetlands and raingardens that we can see across Canberra. While the infrastructure aims to switch off the flow of pollutants from the catchments, the research focuses on how pollutants are behaving in our lakes and ponds,” Senator Seselja said.

Minister Gentleman said the learnings from the research would inform the types of management trials considered most promising in improving water quality in Lake Tuggeranong and reducing the number of lake closures. An urban stormwater ponds research project is also underway.

“Urban ponds are designed to slow the flow of stormwater and allow sediment and nutrients to settle out before the water enters our lakes and rivers,” Minister Gentleman said.

“The ponds project is investigating how exposing sediment to the air through natural seasonal fluctuations in the water level affects water quality. The findings will help us better manage urban wetlands and ponds.

“Residents will see the water levels progressively lowered as part of the research project at Jarramlee Pond in Dunlop and School Pond in Coombs over the next few weeks. The ponds will be left to naturally refill and the process repeated during late summer and autumn this year and next,” Minister Gentleman said.

The University of Canberra is using a range of methods to understand the underlying physical, chemical and biological processes in Lake Tuggeranong and urban stormwater ponds.
“When the new ACT Healthy Waterways infrastructure, including wetlands, ponds and rain gardens are complete, we expect to see a reduction in the level of nutrients entering our lakes and waterways that, in turn, will have an impact on water quality downstream in the wider Murray–Darling Basin,” Senator Seselja said.

Further information on the research projects can be found on the ACT Healthy Waterways website.