Issue: Resource use
How has resource use changed?
Queanbeyan City Council Area was created in February 2004 out of the former Queanbeyan City Council Area (in its entirety) and part of Yarrowlumla Shire.
Drought was the major factor affecting consumption of resources in the council area during the reporting period. Any economic effects of the drought subsequent to 2001 and of the boundary redistribution remain unknown until after the 2006 Census, but it is clear that availability of water for residential development was a critical factor for the council area during the reporting period and will remain so into the future. Only limited information on resource use in Queanbeyan City Council Area is available. No information was available for this report on water consumption by private licensees. This includes the agriculture sector, so implications of the shift from grazing and cropping to rural residential landuses cannot be assessed.
Only very limited information was available on energy use and greenhouse gas contributions within the council area.
Water use linked to drought, restrictions and re-use
Despite reasonable rainfall until August 2002, near-record rainfall in February 2002 and good falls in the last two months of 2003, rainfall received in the four-year period was not sufficient to offset the losses, resulting in an accumulated rainfall deficit of 60% of an average year's rainfall.
The impact of drought and water restrictions took until 2003–04 to hit consumption. The average consumption for the period, however, was 4804 megalitres per year, compared with 4568 megalitres per year in the previous period. In each of the most severe drought years (2001–02 and 2002–03) consumption had risen to above 5000 megalitres despite water restrictions being in place. Use per household, however, had dropped.
Use of the natural resource was offset by use of recycled water from the Queanbeyan Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Queanbeyan City Council Nursery received the benefit of up to 280 megalitres of recycled water during the reporting period.
Assessment of water use and its impacts is limited
Data on water use were available for this report only for council-licensed surface water including reticulated water. No data were available for anywhere outside the reticulated area for Queanbeyan City, nor on private use, including water used for irrigation by the rural sector.
Impacts of all water extraction on the council area's river systems were unknown in 2004.
Focus on reducing solid waste
See these indicator results for more detail: | Solid waste |
Progress was made during the reporting period on recycling facilities as well as on more accurate measurement of solid waste to landfill. Council's efforts included a new recycling facility constructed within the council area, kerbside collections and drop-off facilities for recycling of greenwaste and other recyclable materials, the opening of a waste oil collection facility in late 2003 and the initiation of a household hazardous waste collection service in 2003–04.
Complete data were not available regarding recycling for the council area in the first three years of the reporting period. More accurate and comprehensive data will be available for comparative analysis in the next reporting period.
See these indicator results for more detail: | Landuse |
Protection of forest ecosystems and conservation of biodiversity resources were enhanced in the council area during the reporting period with the conversion of approximately 820 hectares of Crown land for conservation purposes. The conversion of this land was part of the Southern Regional Forests Agreement to help develop a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system. Three new reserves were created within the council area during the reporting period, and about 70 hectares of freehold land added to Queanbeyan Nature Reserve.
Agriculture is the main landuse, on over half of the council area or about 9,300 hectares. About 280 hectares of grazing and mixed farming land was converted for rural residential uses. These changes are due to increasing population and demand for lifestyle properties in close proximity to Canberra.
Due to very limited opportunities to expand the urban area of Queanbeyan City, developers are tending to redevelop single urban dwellings into medium density housing. Towards the end of the reporting period it was estimated that, based on available land for residential use, there were about 1.6 years of development left within existing residential areas in the council area.
Council has been proactive in developing a standardised Local Environment Plan for managing lands in the new council area.
Energy use has several components. Transport type and use contribute to the use of energy, as do type of heating and use of energy for domestic, commercial and industrial purposes. With the increased building and development, some changes in energy use would have occurred in Queanbeyan City Council Area during the reporting period, but results are not known.
The rate of ownership of motor vehicles in the council area increased from 610 per thousand population to 683 per thousand between June 2001 and June 2004. While this could mean cleaner vehicle emissions and reduced consumption per kilometre, insufficient information is known about the nature of the vehicle increase and the kilometres travelled.
Electricity consumption does not appear to be available on a council area basis.
Maintaining Queanbeyan's infrastructure
See these indicator results for more detail: | Infrastructure |
The condition of council's water assets ranges from good/excellent to poor for older structures. Older infrastructure is progressively being replaced. The majority of council's sewage pipes are considered to be in excellent condition, however some sections of trunk mains are undersized for current flow rates. The main pump station is to be upgraded and the sewage treatment plant will need to be upgraded or replaced to accommodate for development within Queanbeyan City.
Council owns and/or maintains about 260 km of local and regional roads within the council area. About 67% of local roads were considered to be in satisfactory condition, 28% in fair condition and the remainder in poor condition. Of the 139 km of footpaths in the council area, 10% were considered in poor condition. Council received Commonwealth funding through the "Roads to Recovery" program to assist in the maintenance of roads in the area.
The condition of council-owned and maintained public buildings within the council area range from excellent to poor depending on the age of the building.
What does this mean for the future?
For land and water management?
The drought will have exacerbated the situation reported in SoE2000 for the former Yarrowlumla Shire, when the Queanbeyan and Molonglo River catchments (now falling partly within the new Queanbeyan City Council Area) were considered to be under medium to low hydrological stress.
The nature of the landuses occurring in the council area and the availability of water to meet them will continue to effectively govern water usage and allocation. Water availability is also likely to affect development and the local economy in the long-term.
Until data on rural and other uses become available, only a partial picture of water use is likely. Council needs data outside its own licensing arrangements to assist its decision-making about planning and development. Such data are also needed for comprehensive impact assessment and catchment management, including environmental flows.
Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) were established under NSW legislation in January 2004. Catchment Action Plans and Macro Water Plans being developed by CMAs should provide data for comprehensive catchment management and assist council decision-making about potential water restrictions during droughts and for future landuse strategies.
Council needs to:
- establish a good partnership arrangement with the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority
- be aware that water management planning in the catchments needs to consider surface water and groundwater as a single resource
- continue its practice of ensuring treated effluent is put to the most beneficial and sustainable uses, and investigating increased use into the future, continuing its liaison with NSW EPA, Department of Agriculture and the Public Works Department to determine the viability of reuse in relation to phosphorus levels
- continue to maintain water, sewage, drainage and road assets under its control in at least a satisfactory condition to reduce the impact of degradation of these assets on the environment.
For waste management?
Council investment in waste management and resource recovery needs to be maintained for continued effectiveness.
For energy use?
See these indicator results for more detail: | Energy consumption |
We simply do not know, but increasingly strong climate change warnings and the precautionary principle dictate more conservative use of non-renewable fuels. Fuel use is also discussed in the Air quality issue.