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Home About Us Publications Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Management Plan

Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Management Plan Print E-mail
Article Index
Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Management Plan
1: Introduction
2: Objectives
3: Process of the Plan
4: Context
5: Past Water Quality Trends
6: Development of Benchmark Levels for Water Quality
7: Management Response
8: Overview of Water Quality Monitoring Programs
9: Actions Arising from the Management of Pollutants
10: Conclusion
11: References
Appendix A: Water Quality Testing Methods
Appendix B: Lake map with water quality sampling sites
All Pages


The National Capital Authority is responsible for the management of Lake Burley Griffin.

The Lake Burley Griffin Water Quality Management Plan is prepared by the Authority to help manage lake water quality and to inform on matters affecting the water quality status of the lake.

This Plan will be used by the Authority, which has statutory responsibility for the Lake, to undertake specific management functions related to the protection of water quality.

The management objective is to protect the Lake as an important visual, recreational and environmental feature of the National Capital for current and future generations.

The Plan presents the current water quality status of the Lake, benchmark values for future monitoring, and management responses to address events that may affect water quality.

The Plan adopts the policies and directions of ANZECC/ARMCANZ Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (2000), prepared under the National Water Quality Management Strategy.

In June 2004, the Plan was finalised after a consultation process involving a range of water quality professionals, government agencies and user groups. This process supported the need for continued water quality monitoring, robust water quality guidelines, additional scientific studies, and dissemination of information.

This Plan includes an Explanatory Paper and a Management Response.

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About this Document

The National Capital Authority is responsible for the management of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

As part of the water quality management of the Lake, the National Capital Authority has produced this document for the sustainable use of the Lake and protection of water quality.

This document comprises:

  • Part 1: Explanatory Paper
  • Part 2: Management Response.

The document was first released in draft format in September 2003 and circulated to other agencies and user groups for comments. The feedback where appropriate now has been incorporated into this document..

A copy of this document can be obtained from:

Library and Information Services
National Capital Authority
GPO Box 373
Canberra ACT 2601

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Abbreviations and Units

  • ANZECC - Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council
  • ARMCANZ - Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand
  • cells/mL - cells per millilitre
  • CFU - Colony Forming Unit
  • CRC - Cooperative Research Centre
  • μm - micrometre (micron)
  • mg/L - milligrams per litre
  • LBGMP1995 - Lake Burley Griffin Management Plan 1995
  • ATA - National Association of Testing Authorities
  • CA - National Capital Authority (henceforth 'the Authority')
  • COSS - National Capital Open Space System
  • CP - National Capital Plan
  • HMRC - National Health and Medical Research Council
  • TU - Nephelometric Turbidity Unit
  • WQMS - National Water Quality Management Strategy
  • WHO - World Health Organisation
  • WQMP - Water Quality Management Plan

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The National Capital Authority would like to acknowledge the support of personnel from a wide range of organisations who provided comments and feedback on this report.

In particular, the Authority would like to thank:

  • The Authority's Publication Committee;
  • Environment ACT;
  • ACT Health Protection Service;
  • National Capital Commission, Ottawa; and
  • Dr Charles Lewis of Department of Environment and Heritage (Commonwealth
    of Australia).

The Authority would also like to thank the staff of ECOWISE Environmental for providing the water quality monitoring information on Lake Burley Griffin.

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Study Team

  • Dr Laslo Nagy, Atech Group
  • Professor Bill Maher, University of Canberra, CRC Freshwater Ecology
  • Mr Simon Foster, University of Canberra
  • Mr Steve Hure, ECOWISE Environmental
  • Mr Barry Horsburgh, ECOWISE Environmental
  • Mr T. Sritharan (Sri), National Capital Authority

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Executive Summary

The preservation and enhancement of Lake Burley Griffin as a central landscape feature that contributes to the character and setting of the National Capital is a matter of national significance in the planning and development of Canberra.

Lake Burley Griffin is an integral part of the tributary system within the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's most significant drainage basin. Water management within the Basin is also a matter of national significance with Lake Burley Griffin acting as a retention pond for downstream parts of the system.

Lake Burley Griffin is also an important inland water resource that supports a variety of water-based commercial and recreational uses for Canberra's residents and visitors. This means that there is increasing pressure to provide better water quality outcomes to support these functions and to protect the health and safety of users.

The National Capital Authority is responsible for the management of the Lake. Sustainable use of the Lake is promoted whilst protecting and enhancing its water quality and allowing for a greater and more diverse range of uses.

Water quality is usually determined by reference to a number of factors, particularly turbidity and suspended material, phosphorus, nitrogen, algae and chlorophyll-a, conductivity and pH, bacteria, metals, and dissolved oxygen.

Parameters set out in the ANZECC/ARMCANZ Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality (2000) and water-quality data collected over the past 23 years have been used to develop the benchmarks for the Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) contained in this document.

The ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) guidelines are generic for south-east Australian waterways and include guidelines for all uses -including drinking, recreational, irrigational and environmental uses. ANZECC/ARMCANZ (2000) also states that its generic guidelines can be modified to suit local conditions, if detailed local information is available.

There is a considerable amount of local information available on Lake Burley Griffin water quality. This has been invaluable in setting appropriate benchmarks for the WQMP and in setting management practices to achieve those benchmarks. The WQMP lists commonly occurring events that can reduce water quality and outlines management measures to protect public health and the environment. The WQMP is designed to be a practical guide to actions required for the effective management of the Lake's water quality. It fits within the overarching direction of the Lake Burley Griffin Management Plan. This WQMP will be revised and updated regularly as new information becomes available.

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Last Updated on Monday, 27 October 2008 08:51