Transport Canberra and City Services

Canberra's Urban Lakes and Ponds

Management of Canberra's urban lakes and ponds

Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) manages most of the lakes and ponds in Canberra. However, the National Capital Authority manages the water surface of Lake Burley Griffin and perimeter areas which are on National Land such as Commonwealth Park and the Parliamentary Triangle. For more information visit:

Applications to use boats on Canberra’s urban lakes and ponds can be made online via Access Canberra.

Notice: Molonglo Reach Water Ski Area

Molonglo Reach Water Ski Area is CLOSED due to safety concerns. For more information visit:

Molonglo River Water Ski FAQs (Word 40KB), PDF version (PDF 26KB)

Overview of Canberra's lakes and ponds

The ACT Government maintains two lakes and 116 ponds and wetlands constructed within urban areas. Canberra's lakes and ponds are designed as 'settling ponds' to trap nutrients, soil, litter and debris, whilst improving the quality of water downstream. They also increase the biodiversity of an area by providing a sanctuary for plants and animals, improving visual amenity and creating a leisure area for the community.
TCCS manages Lake Ginninderra and Lake Tuggeranong which contain major recreational facilities for a range of ages including beaches, designated swimming areas, jetties, boat ramps for non-petroleum powered boats, BBQs and playgrounds.
Zones have been determined for each water body which are based on water quality and ecological criteria. They form the basis for managing the water bodies throughout the ACT.

Water quality and ecological zones for lakes and ponds

Monitoring of water quality and ecology has identified a pattern of progressive water quality improvement longitudinally downstream. This has resulted in three distinct water quality and ecological zones:

  • Inlet Zone (Water Management Zone I): high in suspended solids, nutrients, organic material and bacteria. Typically, this zone comprises the shallow water emergent aquatic plant ecosystems described above. It is a highly productive zone, sustaining high biomass of plants, macroinvertebrates, fish and birds.
  • Intermediate Zone (Water Management Zone 2): edge macrophytes and clear water, having reduced (fine) levels of suspended material, nutrients and bacteria. It typically comprises extensive submerged macrophytes and epiphytic and planktonic algae.
  • Outlet Zone (Water Management Zone 3): low in suspended solids, nutrients and bacteria, and low in planktonic algae. Typically, this zone comprises the deep water planktonic algal ecosystems described above.

For more information about the management of Canberra's urban lakes and ponds, refer to the Canberra Urban Lakes and Ponds Plan of Management.

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We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

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