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Draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan available for public review

Adopting a whole-of-government approach to create a resilient and sustainable water future, the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan is now available for public review, with the NSW government and Hunter Water seeking input from the community.

The draft Plan incorporates more than three years of investigations, assessment and community engagement, with the aim of ensuring the Lower Hunter region is able to meet the demands of a growing population with robust water security initiatives.

Key focuses of the plan include: protecting drinking water catchments, investment in water conservation and leakage reduction, recycled and alternative water supplies, a focus on water sharing plans and desalination, groundwater investigations, and drought management planning.

Aside from water security, Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the draft Plan is also a foundation for the economic development and future liveability within the region.

“Water is fundamental to the region’s growth, prosperity and quality of life,” she said. “I’m proud of the comprehensive work involving a whole-of-government approach to ensure we have a sustainable and resilient water supply for the Lower Hunter, now and for future generations.

“Hunter Water has developed a draft Plan that will support the growth of the region and ensure it can respond to system shocks, including drought and a changing climate.”

Secure drinking water supply

Hunter Water Managing Director Darren Cleary said recent drought has necessitated a renewed plan of action towards ensuring a more secure water supply system.

“The recent drought rewrote the rules for many communities around New South Wales. New insights gained during the drought have confirmed that our region is more vulnerable to drought than we previously thought,” he said.

“The Hunter’s storages can go from typical operating levels to critical in less than three years. If drought were to continue beyond this, our region could run out of water.”

Cleary said the community expects a reliable water supply that can withstand drought, reaffirming the utility’s view that it is unacceptable for the region to face the risk of running out of water.

“A key objective of our future planning is to make sure we can supply enough water to meet the demand from households, businesses and industrial customers, while underpinning regional prosperity and nurturing the unique Lower Hunter environment,” he said.

The draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan will be available for public review up to and including Sunday 19 September 2021.