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ACT to investigate water trading in aid of MDBA recovery target

With the Murray-Darling Basin recovery target deadline looming, the ACT Government is investing $120,000 to investigate whether it can contribute 15 of the 62 gigalitres needed by June 2019.

The ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development directorate plans to investigate the potential for water trading in the territory to aid in meeting the recovery target, Environment Minister Mick Gentleman told The Canberra Times.

"Initial modelling has only just begun to examine how water trading could occur and what might be needed to set such a scheme up," Gentleman said.

The ACT Government owns the territory’s water supply and provides users, including the utility Icon Water, with an entitlement to extract water for consumptive use.

Given current levels of water use, Gentleman said the ACT Government believed about 15 gigalitres of water could be saved and made available on the temporary trading market.

"[This may be possible], while ensuring the territory's water requirements are secure into the future,” he said.

"Temporary trading of water entitlements has the potential to raise additional revenue, which, for example, could go towards improved catchment management.

“The revenue generated would depend on the price of water at the time of trading.”

As part of the investigation, the ACT Government will consider efficiency measures that could help recover 15 gigalitres, including refurbishing stormwater assets, water recycling opportunities and water-sensitive landscaping measures.

The ACT's investigation comes after Icon Water cancelled a contract with Snowy Hydro for back-up water supplies for the ACT, as much of regional NSW grapples with drought.