Big fix needed for Canberra waterways

Updated April 23 2018 - 10:03pm, first published June 12 2014 - 6:40pm

Can there be any subject more prosaic than Canberra's stormwater drains? They are without doubt a vital part of the territory's urban infrastructure, but stormwater drains barely figure in the public consciousness, except perhaps on those rare occasions when they are inundated with heavy rain and cause flash flooding. This is because the kilometres upon kilometres of underground drains and open channels around Canberra do a remarkably efficient job of diverting stormwater away from populated areas into a network of creeks and lakes, thence to water treatment plants and eventually into the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee rivers. Rather too well, in fact, for in addition to harvesting water, the drains also collect copious quantities of urban-generated detritus – nitrogen, phosphorus, oils, solids and other nasties – and deposits them in the territory’s lakes.

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