10 May 2021

Partnership delivers environmental benefits for Lower Hunter community

A partnership between Hunter Water and Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS) has rehabilitated more than 16 kilometres of stream bank, led to the planting of 13,000 trees, and encouraged platypus to return to the Lower Hunter area as part of a $900,000 catchment improvement program.

In 2013, Hunter Water developed a sustainable management strategy for the sewered areas of Paxton, Millfield and Ellalong, south of Cessnock.

This strategy involved developing a program with the community to improve water quality in Congewai and Quorrobolong creeks.

Elevated levels of nutrients both upstream and downstream from the Paxton Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) had been caused by a number of contributing factors, including vegetation clearing, agriculture, urban stormwater, general erosion, and the Paxton WWTW.

After joining forces with HLLS, Hunter Water invested more than $400,000 to deliver the Congewai and Quorrobolong Catchment Improvement Program.

Using these funds, HLLS implemented a five-year grants initiative targeting local landowners, who also provided about $500,000 towards the project.

The program, which started in 2016, ultimately aimed to reduce the environmental impact of the Paxton WWTW on the catchment area and save money by delaying a further $1 million upgrade to the facility.

Hunter Water Environmental Scientist and Project Manager, Dr Louise McKenzie, said the program’s success was the result of an effective partnership with HLLS and the local community.

“As a group, we’ve achieved better overall water quality by working together to improve landowners’ properties.

“This has included fencing off livestock from the creek, as well as regenerating or enhancing native vegetation and erosion control.

“While the five-year program is almost finished, we’ve already received positive feedback that the creek looks a lot better, and some landowners have even commented that they’ve seen platypus return more frequently.”
Louise McKenzie, Hunter Water Environmental Scientist and Project Manager

Hunter Water will survey participating landowners in the coming months before preparing a report for the Environment Protection Authority.