Belmont desalination plant

Project overview

Artist impression of project site

We are planning to build a permanent desalination plant at Belmont. A permanent plant is a key action in the recently released Lower Hunter Water Security Plan.

Desalination is an important rainfall-independent water supply option and will help support our customers and communities with a safe and reliable water source regardless of changes in weather or climate.

We selected Belmont as the location for a desalination plant following the completion of a multi-site analysis that compared:

  • the costs of the plant and associated infrastructure
  • power supply requirements and
  • community and environmental impacts.

The site at Belmont provided the best option for a number of reasons including ability to connect to our water system, proximity to the ocean and low levels of community disruption and impacts due to the relatively remote location. In addition we already own the land and construction costs are lower than for other sites.

The site also allows the discharge of brine (the remaining salt water from the desalination process) to the ocean via the existing outfall at the nearby Belmont Wastewater Treatment Works.

A permanent desalination plant at Belmont:

  • will add up to 30 million litres per day of rainfall-independent water supply to the Lower Hunter’s water system, which is around 15% of the region’s average daily water needs
  • increases the diversity of the region’s water supply system, which will improve the resilience of the overall system and help Hunter Water to continue to support customers and communities regardless of climate or system shocks
  • helps to reduce the rate that storages deplete in a long and severe drought by around six months, delaying the need to implement severe drought response measures
  • provides a flexible water supply source that is responsive to water supply needs.

Greenhouse gas emissions from desalination will be incorporated into Hunter Water’s Carbon Strategy.

Image of project site

Progress report

We currently have approval to build a drought response desalination plant at Belmont, which was to have proceeded if the Hunter reached critical water storage levels in drought conditions.

Now the Lower Hunter Water Security Plan has been released, we are seeking approval to build and operate a permanent desalination plant at Belmont instead.

We have prepared a Modification Report to the existing Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), originally approved by the NSW Department of Planning for the drought response plant. You can view the existing approval documents on the NSW Planning Major Projects portal.

Modification Report

The Modification Report has been submitted to the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) and the public exhibition closed on Tuesday 20 February 2024. Hunter Water will prepare a Response to Submissions Report which will form part of our application being assessed by DPHI.

A full copy of the EIS Modification Report can be downloaded from the NSW Government’s Major Projects website.

Questions and answers

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