Today l rise to inform the house of the recent launch of the Valley Ponds in Gungahlin and thank the Minister for the Environment for the opportunity to be present at the launch.

The Valley Ponds are part of some very valuable natural resources in this rapidly growing area of our city, including, especially, Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserve as well as parts of the magnificent Centenary Trail.

As we see such significant urban development around the Gungahlin region, it is vitally important we are also able to have sites like the Valley Ponds which not only improve our environment but also educate our community about the importance of natural habitat.

The design of the Valley Ponds project began in mid-2010, with construction beginning in early 2012. The project has multiple aims, including to improve the quality of the natural environment as well as to encourage recreational and volunteer opportunities for the Gungahlin community. It also aims to educate the community on the rich cultural history of the ponds area.

The Valley Ponds area is considered to be one of high heritage and cultural significance. It is an area with strong Indigenous links, with the tributary flowing into the ponds area demonstrating many signs of early Aboriginal occupation.

There is also evidence of the importance that the waterway held for the Aboriginal community, using boats and other instruments to use the area for food and transport. The area has also been of colonial historical importance, being the home of the Gribble family, one of the founding families of the Gungahlin region.

Environmentally, the project has modified what was a degraded natural waterway that neglected to protect the water quality of the Gungahlin ponds into a waterway that has improved water quality.

At the Valley Ponds, polluted water from the Gungahlin town centre and surrounds is captured; pollutants are removed in the wetlands. The water then flows into Gungahlin pond, subsequently into Lake Ginninderra and eventually into the Murrumbidgee River. The construction of this pond has meant that the quality of stormwater has been improved by around 60 per cent. Stormwater harvesting is another achievement of the Valley Ponds project, and the stormwater captured in the lowest ponds is used for the irrigation of the enclosed oval.

I would like to acknowledge the investment of the ACT Government in providing funding to this incredible project. In the 2009-10 budget, $6.5 million in funding was provided to the project. I would like to thank the Environment and Planning Directorate for their thorough work in constructing the ponds to such a high standard.

It was my pleasure to open the Valley Ponds on Friday, 20 March. I would like to acknowledge the principals and students of Burgmann Anglican School and Gungahlin College, some of whom attended and have been involved with the project since 2010. I would also like to acknowledge the Birralee Scout Group for their active participation in the project.

For the Gungahlin community, the development of the Valley Ponds will offer volunteering and recreational opportunities for the community to participate in. In terms of volunteering, groups such as Greening Australia and Conservation Volunteers Australia have been involved and will continue to be involved with weed removal and planting.

Key stakeholders such as the local schools and scout group will have use of an outdoor learning space. The location of the space allows easy collection of water and species samples. Within the classroom, Ngunnawal names of wetland animals are used, and there are signs around the wetlands with information on the Indigenous and colonial history of the area.

The Valley Ponds are an important development for the Gungahlin area that has delivered on multiple fronts. The environmental development of the Valley Ponds is an important step in preserving the environment in our local community. Further, the educational value attributed to the outdoor learning space is significant for all. As a result, the Valley Ponds project improves the quality of the ecological habitat and community spirit.

I encourage all members to visit the Valley Ponds and see the improvements for themselves.