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ACT utility cancels back-up water contract

While many regions in NSW battle with drought, the Australian Capital Territory’s major water utility has cancelled a water contract with Snowy Hydro for back-up supplies.

In budget estimates this month, Icon Water officials said increased water storage in the ACT disqualified the need for the Tantangara Transfer Option, which acted as water security insurance for the region.

Icon Water Managing Director John Knox told the SMH the Tantangara Transfer Option was established in the wake of the Millenium Drought, as the utility was taking every precaution with water security.

"Icon Water entered into a contract with Snowy Hydro Limited in 2014 known as the Tantangara Transfer Option, to provide for the release of water from Tantangara Dam in NSW," Knox said.

"Tantangara Dam is the only significant water storage asset upstream of the ACT and the only source that can provide additional surface water to the region from NSW.

“It was for this reason the Tantangara Transfer Option was recommended as supplementary security as part of the ACT’s response to the millennium drought."

Knox said that while it was considered necessary at the time, despite the comparatively high water costs, but with measures to cut water consumption embraced by the Canberra community, it is no longer necessary.

“[The Canberra community] embraced water-smart behaviours," Know said, and in doing so reduced water usage by 40%, which continues today.

"Given the increased storage of our system and the sustained water-smart behaviours of the ACT community, this high-cost water source is no longer required to supplement our existing sources.

"Even without the Tantangara option, our modelling shows that our water system can withstand the worst drought on record."

Knox said economic indicators will be disclosed at the completion of the notice period.

"At the completion of the notice period, we will realise cost savings which will be passed on to the ACT community," Knox said.