The Lower Hunter region was fortunate to escape the recent drought that affected most of the State but it is not immune. Water supply in the lower Hunter is highly vulnerable to drought. Water levels can drop faster than in most other major Australian urban centres during drought because Lower Hunter storages are small, or shallow and have high evaporation rates.The planning process to secure water for the Lower Hunter is underway.
The Metropolitan Water Directorate within the Department of Finance and Services is leading development of the Lower Hunter Water Plan in close consultation with Hunter Water, other government agencies and the lower Hunter community.
Solutions will be identified that ensure the lower Hunter makes it through a drought. The Plan will also be sufficiently long term to meet the water supply needs of a growing community.
All options will be considered to secure the lower Hunter region's water supply.
Water planning for the lower Hunter will comply with the requirement in the Hunter Water Operating Licence for an Integrated Water Resource Plan and also the National Urban Water Planning Principles adopted by COAG.
The Lower Hunter Water Plan is due for completion in December 2013.
Hunter residents are already efficient water users but we need to continue our efforts. In the short term, Hunter Water is addressing water security by continuing its focus on recycling and water conservation initiatives including residential and business water efficiency and loss minimisation.
Community input into the Plan
The Lower Hunter Water Plan will be developed in close consultation with the community and stakeholders.
This will ensure that the Metropolitan Water Directorate and Hunter Water understand community expectations and needs in relation to water security and developing the plan.
There will be opportunities for the community and stakeholders to provide input throughout the plan's development.
Independent Water Advisory Panel
The NSW Government established the Independent Water Advisory Panel to provide independent strategic and technical advice on urban water planning for the lower Hunter and greater Sydney regions.
The Panel comprises experts in urban water planning, water resource management, hydrology and water systems planning, the economics of urban water systems, community engagement and social research, environmental and natural resource management.
For further information visit the NSW Department of Finance and Services.