(Including Namadgi National Park and adjacent areas of the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments).
The Policy Plan comprises General and Specific Policies. General Policies are broadly based and define the basic planning and management objectives within the area as a whole. The objectives of the Policy Plan are reflected in general policies covering key land and water use, environmental, cultural and management aspects. Specific Policies relate to the activities designated within particular parts of the planning area. They include:
- sub-catchment policies which refer to broad zones within the total catchment and relate to particular water harvesting requirements (See Figure 1); and
- area policies which refer to various geographic areas defined on the basis of suitability for certain land-use types (See Figure 2).
Prior to the inception of Namadgi National Park, water supply was the main recognised use of the Cotter and the intended use of the Gudgenby Catchment. The Catchment areas also provide diverse ecological, scenic and recreational resources which are increasingly being used and appreciated by both residents of and visitors to Canberra. The finite and often sensitive nature of these resources makes it essential that a unified approach be taken in planning, development and management. In particular full recognition needs to be given to the limitations on use that must be applied if the water quality, quantity, reliability and environmental qualities of the Catchments are to be maintained.
Because full water treatment is a high cost procedure in terms of both capital and operating costs, there are considerable economic and other benefits to Canberra consumers in protecting the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments, particularly in maintaining the Catchments in a condition which allows for appropriate use of the sensitive ecological systems and continuing economical harvesting of water for Canberra's water supply with only minimal treatment. There are trade-offs in accepting both these aims - in the form of some limitation on the level of use and access to parts of the Cotter Catchment - but it is considered that the operational and land management practices for water harvesting can be in sympathy with the use and management of the Catchment for nature conservation and certain forms of recreation. However, multiple use and management of the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments will require the preparation of appropriate land management and operational policies.
Key Objectives: To protect the resources and environmental qualities of Namadgi National Park and adjacent areas of the Cotter and Gudgenby catchments in the interests of Canberra's water supply and nature conservation. Plantation timber production in the north of the Policy Area, recreation and scientific study are secondary objectives.
Water Supply: To protect the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments for Canberra's water supply so as to maintain or improve yield in terms of quality, quantity and reliability. The quality of water supply in the Cotter Catchment to be assured primarily by controls over Catchment uses rather than by the use of additional treatment.
Nature Conservation: To protect the ecological resources of the Policy Area by conserving vegetation communities in a relatively undisturbed state, maintaining a diversity of plant and animal habitats and assuring the continued viability of land and aquatic habitats.
Recreation: To provide opportunities for appropriate recreational use.
Education, Scientific Study and Research: To use the area for appropriate environmental education, research and scientific study.
Timber Production: To use and manage the existing softwood plantations of the Cotter Catchment for continuing commercial timber production.
Heritage: To protect and conserve the significant cultural and heritage resources, including their landscape context, and to provide for interpretation of sites consistent with the protection of resources within a unified management approach.
Access: To provide and manage access to National Park and related areas for recreation and essential management purposes consistent with the objectives.
Non-Permissible Activities: To prohibit activities which are incompatible with the key policy objectives. These activities may include:
- prospecting and mining in the Cotter Catchment and Namadgi National Park
- off-road use of vehicles other than for management purposes
- commercial grazing in the Cotter Catchment and Namadgi National Park excluding Gudgenby Station
- swimming and other body contact water-based recreation
- use of chemicals likely to cause deterioration in water quality in the Cotter Catchment
- hunting and shooting other than that required for management purposes
- residential accommodation other than required for park and management purposes.
Management is a matter for the ACT Government. The National Capital Planning Authority's policy regarding management is that management plans and practices will be prepared in a manner that Is consistent with the policies in this Appendix.
Sub-Catchment Policies (See Figure 1).
The protection of the Cotter Catchment so as to maintain a water supply yield in terms of quality, quantity and reliability to Canberra requires controls on land uses and appropriate management practices within the Catchment. Consequently, a primary concern in formulating the Policy Plan is to determine land uses for various parts of the Catchment, within the framework of constraints associated with catchment protection requirements.
In terms of catchment protection for water harvesting, the Cotter and the Gudgenby Catchments have been divided into five sub-catchments which have varying protection requirements. These sub-catchments are:
- the upper Cotter (Corin Dam) sub-catchmentthe intermediate Cotter (Bendora Dam) sub-catchment
- the lower Cotter (Possible Future Dam) sub-catchment
- the lower Cotter (Cotter Dam) sub-catchment
- the Gudgenby (Future Tennent Dam) catchment.
The opportunity for use in each sub-catchment reflects catchment conditions, present and potential run-off characteristics and the nature of the water supply operation as explained below.
Within the upper (Corin Dam) sub-catchment, run-off is of a high quality due to the vegetation cover, soil stability, and limited human activity. Corin Reservoir is operated for the regulation of run-off and subsequent release to Bendora Reservoir. As some limited buffering is provided by water retention in Corin Reservoir, minor increases in bacterial levels of run-off are acceptable without jeopardising the water supply. However, effective disinfection of bacteria is ultimately dependent on the maintenance of a discharge to Bendora which is low in turbidity and nutrients. There is thus some scope for public use as long as this is tightly controlled to minimise the impact on the quality of water flowing downstream and there is no added risk of bushfire.
In the case of the intermediate (Bendora Dam) sub-catchment, water is of a high quality due to the forest cover, soil stability and limited human activity. Water is diverted directly from Bendora Reservoir to Mt Stromlo and after disinfection, pH correction and fluoridation treatment, is distributed to Canberra's water supply system. The adequacy of this treatment is dependent on the maintenance of a high physical, chemical and bacteriological quality of the raw water at Bendora Reservoir. Consequently there is no potential for land uses which involve disturbance to the sub-catchment and very little potential for increasing public access.
The lower sub-catchment currently exhibits run-off having turbidity and bacteriological concentrations such that water treatment is required prior to the delivery of water from this sub-catchment to the water supply distribution system. The quality of water in this zone is a reflection of the more erosion-prone soils of the area, and the greater extent of activities such as softwood logging and recreation. Because the Cotter Reservoir is only used intermittently an opportunity exists to accommodate a wider range of uses.
However, the efficiency of the treatment process when it is in use will be dependent on limitations on turbidity, iron and nutrient levels of the raw water. A restricted access policy is essential when the reservoir is in use, including for a short period prior to such use.
Hydrological studies indicate that the construction of a dam at Vanitys Crossing or Tennent Dam in the Gudgenby sub-catchment would increase the assured yield for water supply by about 30 per cent - the equivalent of between 110,000 and 120,000 persons for a new Cotter Dam and by 140,000 for the Tennent Dam. The development of one of these options will be required in the future to cater for population growth, possibly as early as 1995.
The catchment of a future dam at Vanitys Crossing is largely eucalypt forest and although no water quality data is available for the site, it is expected that water quality would be such that a catchment management system similar to that for Bendora Dam may be appropriate.
Run-off in the case of the Gudgenby (Tennent Dam) catchment is of a high quality, reflecting the forest and grass character of the catchment, soil stability and limited human activity. Water from Tennent Reservoir would be fed, after treatment, directly into the water distribution system. As some habitation and a wide usage of the catchment for recreation, camping and nature study is proposed, extensive buffer storage and water clarification and disinfection would be required at Tennent Dam to ensure adequate protection of public health.
The adequacy of this system of protection would be dependent on the maintenance of the high physical and chemical quality of raw water, and on careful control on bacteria discharged in wastewater in the catchment.
The continuation of rural activities in the Naas and Gudgenby valleys is compatible with the planning intentions in the interim, although ultimately these leases would need to be withdrawn as they would be largely inundated by the reservoir. It would not be appropriate, however, to permit substantial capital development, which to be economically justified, would need to be viable beyond the construction date of the reservoir.
In summary, restricted use is possible in the upper Cotter (Corin Dam) sub-catchment, most uses need to be excluded in the intermediate Cotter (Bendora Dam) sub-catchment and a wide range of uses is possible in the lower Cotter sub-catchment and Gudgenby catchment.
Policy Statements (See Figure 1)
Upper (Corin Dam) Sub-catchment: To maintain appropriate water quality by permitting only those low intensity uses which have minimal impact on soil stability and vegetation cover and which are free of any discharges to the waters of the sub-catchment.
Intermediate (Bendora Dam) Sub-catchment: To maintain the sub-catchment in a condition which yields high quality water and protects existing ecological values. Public access on existing roads to be controlled to limit any risk to water quality.
Lower (Possible Future Dam) Sub-catchment: To plan and manage this catchment to guarantee water quality with minimal treatment. This will involve strict control of access and land use.
Lower (Cotter Dam) Sub-catchment: In the short term to maintain water quality to at least existing conditions. The only land uses to be permitted are those which will not lead to any further deterioration of water quality. The immediate foreshore area to be closed to public access when water is being taken from the Cotter Reservoir and for a short period beforehand to limit the risk to water quality. Further consideration to be given to the longer term use and water treatment measures appropriate to managing this sub-catchment.
Gudgenby (Future Tennent Dam) Catchment: To manage this catchment for future water harvesting for Canberra's water supply. To maintain appropriate water quality by permitting only those low intensity uses which have minimal impact on soil stability and vegetation cover, or where more intensive use areas are required, locating such areas and providing wastewater collection and treatment facilities such that the water quality of streams is protected.
Area Policies (See Figure 2)
The total area covered by the Policy Plan has been geographically subdivided into component areas which are designated on the Plan by a letter prefix and a number corresponding to the Area Policy Statements. In a few cases two geographically separate components are covered by a single policy statement.
The letter prefixes relate to the following land-use categories:
- Nature Conservation
- Pine Plantations
- Restoration for Nature Conservation
- Low to Medium-Intensity Recreation
- Park Management Centres and Other Facilities
- Public Utility Easements
The areas, identified by a letter prefix and number, have been identified on the basis of their existing characteristics and the major future uses which are considered to be suitable in the context of the General Policies and Sub-Catchment Policies.
Because of its ecological importance as part of Namadgi National Park a major activity of the two Catchments is designated as nature conservation, which is compatible with Catchment protection for water harvesting. Reservoirs, public utilities and roads are superimposed on these nature conservation areas and therefore certain constraints need to apply to ensure an acceptable degree of compatibility.
A. Nature Conservation
Namadgi National Park was gazetted in October 1984 under the Nature Conservation Ordinance 1980 and includes about 70 per cent of the Cotter Catchment and the former Gudgenby Nature Reserve. At that time it was considered that additional areas might be added to the Park at a later stage.
The planning for Namadgi National Park and adjacent areas within the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments should respond to the varying needs for protection of the ecological resources and essential environmental qualities of each area. For example, there is the potential for the upper part of Namadgi National Park to be managed as a Wilderness Area in sympathy with a proposed Bimberi Wilderness Area extending into the north-eastern corner of Kosciusko National Park and the southern part of the Bimberi Nature Reserve in NSW. In other areas, varying levels of recreational use and other activities may be compatible with nature conservation.
To minimise the risk of over-use of the Wilderness Area, it is desirable to provide a buffer, where practicable, between the wilderness areas and nearby areas suitable for recreational use and other activities of a more intensive kind than is appropriate in the Wilderness Area. This is particularly so on the Gudgenby side where there is easy access from Boboyan Road.
Significant populations of platypus and two nationally endangered fish species, the Macquarie perch and the river blackfish, occur in the Cotter River and reservoir system. Macquarie perch are not secure in the Murrumbidgee River, the only other ACT river in which they occur. Preservation of river, stream and reservoir habitat, maintenance of high water quality and protection of fish stocks are required to ensure long term survival of the fish species in the ACT.
Hardwood logging has been carried out in part of the Cotter Catchment in the past and significant Government funds have been invested in anticipation of re-logging the hardwood stands. However these stands, particularly the associations containing Eucalyptus fastigata, E. viminalis and E. radiata in the north-east of the catchment have been shown to be one of the richest communities for both birds and arboreal mammals. The nearest location of eucalyptus associations containing these species is on the eastern escarpment of the Great Dividing Range. Further evaluation is required before commercial hardwood logging can be recommended because of the potential impact it may have on water quality, wildlife habitats and on recreation.
Policy Statements (See Figure 2)
- Cotter/Gudgenby Wilderness Area: To be preserved as an area where the concept of wilderness is the primary consideration and where ecological processes are not disturbed by human interference. The Wilderness Area to be considered as part of a greater Bimberi Wilderness Area extending into adjacent areas of NSW. Cotter Hut to be retained for essential management purposes. Existing tracks to be retained but no new tracks to be provided. Consideration to be given to linking up the existing walking tracks with tracks in the adjoining Kosciusko National Park.
- Upper Cotter Area: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education and as a buffer for the Cotter/Gudgenby Wilderness Area. Low level recreational use, compatible with water supply and environmental protection requirements, to be controlled by appropriate means. Existing vehicular tracks to be retained for management purposes.
- Corin to Bendora: This area to receive a high level of protection to maintain the existing ecological values and quality of run-off to the water supply. Public access to be controlled along Mt Franklin Road. Limited access to specific features may be permitted.
- Mt Aggie to Mt Gingera: The crest of the Brindabella Range to be used for low intensity recreational activities compatible with nature conservation and maintenance of water quality. Vehicular access to snowfields in winter to be controlled. Facilities for downhill skiing into the Bendora Catchment not to be permitted. The existing building at Mt Franklin to be used for park purposes as a possible base for bushwalking, cross country skiing and nature study compatible with protection of the Bendora Sub-catchment. The Civil Aviation Authority Radio Link Station on the summit of Mt Ginini to remain until it is no longer required for this purpose when it would be removed. No other buildings to be permitted.
- Lower Cotter: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. Low level recreational usage to be permitted compatible with environmental protection and long-term water quality objectives. Recreational trails and interpretation facilities to be provided. The need for compatible use and management of the portion of the Catchment in NSW to be discussed with the NSW Government authorities.
- Bendora to Bull's Head: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. Low level recreational usage to be permitted compatible with environmental protection and long-term water quality objectives. Hardwood logging may be permitted in the area previously logged but before any decision relating to hardwood logging on a commercial scale is taken, a programme of evaluation would need to be undertaken, having regard to economic viability and the impact of logging operations on the environment, recreation and on water quality. If the results of such a study favour its reintroduction, commercial logging of hardwood may be permitted subject to there being no detrimental impact on water quality or long-term environmental damage.
- Booroomba/Blue Gum Creek: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. Low level bushland recreation associated with the adjoining Booroomba development to be permitted compatible with environmental protection.
- Mt Tennent: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. Low level bushland recreation with provision for public access compatible with the protection of the steep north-eastern slope and recognition of the constraints of future development of Tennent Reservoir and associated works on the lower south-eastern slopes. Summit to be used for special purposes, eg telecommunications related to the southern part of the ACT including Namadgi.
- Blue Gum Creek-Honeysuckle Creek: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. To be promoted for low-level bushland recreation with provision for public access for bushwalking, rock climbing, orienteering, camping, public appreciation, research and education. Bushwalking and equestrian trails to be provided compatible with environmental protection.
- Orroral Valley: Existing ecological and cultural values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. To be used for low-level bushland recreation with provision for public access for bushwalking, orienteering, camping, public appreciation, research and education.
- Buffer Area between Boboyan Road and The Wilderness Area: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. Low level bushland recreation associated with adjoining recreational use areas to be permitted compatible with provision of a buffer between Boboyan Road and the Wilderness Area. Selected vehicle access to points of interest (e.g. lookouts) and starting off points for bushwalking with provision for parking and overnight camping.
- Booth Range: Existing ecological values to be maintained and protected for public appreciation, research and education. To be promoted for low level bushland recreation with provision for public access for bushwalking, orienteering, camping, public appreciation, research and education. Bushwalking and equestrian trails to be provided compatible with environmental protection.
The three existing water storages on the Cotter River are Corin, Bendora and Cotter Reservoirs. Water from the highest reservoir (Corin) is released down the River to maintain the level in Bendora Reservoir. From there the Bendora gravity main conveys water to the Stromlo Water Treatment Plant.
Water from Cotter Reservoir has to be pumped to Stromlo where following treatment, it is mixed with Bendora water and distributed to the urban areas of Canberra. Because of the present adequate water supply for Canberra and the high cost of pumping and treating water, the Cotter Reservoir is only used to augment water supply during periods of high demand or when Bendora pipeline is not in use. In the absence of a high level of water treatment, a restricted access policy has been considered essential to guarantee safe and potable water.
Proposals for additional water storage include the construction of a new dam at Vanitys Crossing on the Cotter River and Tennent Dam on the Gudgenby River. A new dam could be required as early as 1995 to meet the expected increase in Canberra's water consumption demands. Because of the location of Vanitys Crossing Dam and the current level of usage of the Lower Cotter Catchment, water derived from a storage in this area may not require full treatment provided appropriate catchment management is instituted. A future Tennent Reservoir in the Gudgenby River Catchment could be a major recreation resource as well as providing for water supply.
Policy Statements (See Figure 2)
- Corin Reservoir: Use of Corin Reservoir to be reserved for Canberra water supply. A limited degree of public recreation such as fishing to be considered. Should this prove feasible, boat access to be permitted only from Corin Road, and a boat ramp with sealed vehicular access to be provided at the northern end of the Reservoir. Swimming and other body contact activities not to be permitted. Public access to the Reservoir to be prohibited within a 200 m zone of the outlet tower and spillway. Facilities for picnicking, caretaker's house and public amenities buildings to be retained in this area.
- Bendora Reservoir: Use of Bendora Reservoir to be reserved for Canberra water supply. No other use of the Reservoir shall be permitted.
- Possible Future Reservoir: This area to be considered for the construction of future water storage. Existing usage to continue in the short term. Planning and management of this area to be on a basis that requires treatment by disinfection only. Use of the future reservoir to be reserved for Canberra water supply. No other use of reservoir shall be permitted.
- Lower Cotter Reservoir: Use of Reservoir to be reserved for Canberra water supply specifically as a secondary storage for use either in the event of a failure of the Bendora or Googong systems or to augment the primary water supply during periods of peak demand. Access to the dam to be permitted for sightseeing purposes. When water is not being drawn from the Reservoir, access for fishing and manually and electrically powered boats may be considered subject to the maintenance of water quality and protection of the environment. Swimming and other body contact activities not to be permitted.
- Future Tennent Reservoir and Environs: Site for future reservoir for water supply and associated recreation and regeneration. Approved grazing and pasture crop production may continue in interim. Natural regeneration to be encouraged on the steeper and forested slopes of Mt Tennent and Billy Range.
Management of future reservoir may allow public recreation, including fishing, rowing, sailing and low-powered boats introduced on the basis of a phased programme of recreation development.
C. Pine Plantations
The Uriarra and Pierce's Creek Pine Plantations, (including the Blue Range-Sherwood Section) cover about 80 km2, of which about 60 km2 are within the Cotter Catchment. The provision of further pine plantations by clearing of native forests is against ACT Government policy. Subject to later review, the existing plantations will be retained in accordance with the Commonwealth Government's commitment of March 1984 to the ACT softwood production industry as an important source of employment in the ACT.
Pine plantations also provide for a wide range of recreational uses including walking, horse-riding, picnicking, pleasure driving and organised activities such as car rallying, trail bike riding, archery and orienteering. In some parts of the pine plantation there is potential for enhanced development, particularly in the Blue Range, Sherwood and Blundells Flat areas, which could be modified to facilitate further recreational use.
The main issues relating to the existing pine plantations are to minimise the adverse effects of clearfelling, land preparation for replanting, and fertilising on the quantity and quality of run-off to the water supply system. There is also an opportunity to enhance visual diversity by planting other species and breaking up large uniform areas of single age trees.
Policy Statements (See Figure 2)
- Pine Plantations within Lower Catchment: Existing pine plantations to be retained in the short to medium term as multiple-use areas for softwood production and recreation. Longer term use to be subject to later review. Clearing of native vegetation to establish new pine plantations not to be permitted. Management practices to be designed to minimise their impact on the quality of run-off to the water supply system. Felling may be implemented to increase visual diversity in the broader landscape by breaking up large areas containing trees of the same age. Selected areas of native vegetation within the plantations, particularly along public roads, plantation edges and water courses to be retained and, where appropriate, extended. When water is not being drawn from Cotter Reservoir, low level recreation such as walking, orienteering, picnicking and fishing to be permitted. Pine plantations in the Blundells Flat area may be modified to facilitate the recreational usage of the pine plantations. Further recreational use to be encouraged by provision of signposted forest drives, trails and picnic/barbecue areas and interpretative facilities.
- Blue Range-Sherwood Area: Pine plantations and open grassland areas to be retained as multiple-purpose areas for softwood production and recreation. Area to be developed as a forest park with provision for car-based camping for both small and large groups. Vehicular access to the area to be improved. Felling may be implemented to improve visual diversity in the broader landscape by breaking up large areas containing trees of the same age. Areas of native vegetation to be retained and extended.
D. Restoration for Nature-Conservation
Some parts of the Gudgenby area have been extensively modified by past land clearing for grazing which is being phased out. To improve the scenic and nature-conservation values of these areas, it is desirable that the original vegetation cover be re-established. In some areas, this will take place through natural regeneration, while in other areas some planting with indigenous species may be required. Natural grass land areas or open areas of heritage or scenic value would be identified and retained.
The remaining parts of the Boboyan Pine Plantation which survived the January 1983 bushfire are to be removed at maturity.
Policy Statements (See Figure 2)
- Mt Tennent (Northern Extension): Native vegetation to be re-established as an extension of the Mt Tennent landscape.
- Gudgenby Station (Western Portion): Existing rural use to be phased out and the area to be restored for nature conservation and as a buffer to the Wilderness Area. Native vegetation to be re-established on the steeper and disturbed areas while retaining and protecting the open valley as a cultural resource.
- Boboyan Pine Plantation (Western Portion): Existing pine plantation to be removed at maturity and native vegetation to be re-established for nature conservation and as a buffer to the Wilderness Area.
- Grassy Creek Area: Revegetation of disturbed areas to be encouraged with a view to achieving a combination of forest and open valley landscapes for low-intensity bushland recreation and as a buffer to the Wilderness Area.
E. Low to Medium-Intensity Recreation
While the demand for recreation use and public appreciation of the Namadgi National Park and associated areas in the Cotter and Gudgenby Catchments is expected to increase only slowly and, at present, can be catered for by a low level of facility it is prudent to identify locations for more intense recreational use should these be required in the longer term. Emphasis is placed on concentrating car-based activities towards the more accessible northern end of the Cotter Catchment in the pine plantations (see Policies C.1 and C.2) and in modified areas off Boboyan