Lower Hunter Water Plan

Overview

The Lower Hunter Water Plan was developed by the Metropolitan Water Directorate in close consultation with Hunter Water, government agencies, stakeholders and the community.  The Plan was released by the NSW Government in April 2014.

The Lower Hunter Water Plan identifies a mix of water supply and demand measures that will ensure water security in drought, as well as reliable supplies to meet the region's longer-term needs.
It includes measures to supply, save and substitute water that are already in place or underway, like water efficiency and recycled water investments, as well as additional measures to respond to severe droughts when they occur.

Hunter Water is responsible for implementing many of the actions in the Lower Hunter Water Plan.

Key Elements

The Lower Hunter Water Plan is a package of measures that incorporates the contribution of water efficiency and recycled water investments already in place and underway, and builds on these to ensure the lower Hunter region can withstand an extreme drought.

Detail on the initiatives and directions of the 2014 Lower Hunter Water Plan can be seen at the Metropolitan Water Directorate Lower Hunter Water Plan website.

The key elements of the plan are:

  • Continued importance of existing surface and groundwater sources at Chichester Dam, Grahamstown DamTomago Sandbeds and Tomaree Sandbeds.
  • Investigating the feasibility of new groundwater sources that might boost supply in drought.
  • Undertaking investigations and 'readiness activities' for temporary desalination if needed in an extreme drought.
  • Transferring water to or from the Central Coast under an existing agreement, undertaking works to increase transfer capacity from the Central Coast to the lower Hunter, improving modelling tools, and optimising water transfer arrangements between the two regions.
  • Reducing demand through Water Wise Ruleswater recycling such as Kooragang Industrial Water Scheme, leak detection and pressure management, and water efficiency programs for households and businesses
  • Rainwater tanks to be installed under the current BASIX rules and as a water saving measure by households and businesses.
  • Undertaking measures during drought as water storage levels fall such as applying water restrictions, additional leak detection and pressure management, extra water efficiency programs for households and businesses, and installing temporary desalination units if needed in an extreme drought.

Drought Response

The Lower Hunter Water Plan has a strong focus on actions to maintain the region's water supplies through a drought.
The table below shows how measures will be activated as water storage levels fall. In the vast majority of climate scenarios most of the measures are not needed. Although the chance of an extreme drought is low, it is important to be prepared. For all climate scenarios:

  • Water Wise Rules (implemented as of 1 July 2014) will apply that are common sense actions to help conserve water every day.
  • Water can be transferred between the lower Hunter and the Central Coast under an existing agreement, depending on the storage levels in each region. Work will continue to improve modelling tools and optimise water transfer arrangements between the two regions.
  • Further investigations and 'readiness activities' will be undertaken on temporary desalination to enable a quick response if needed in an extreme drought.

Water Storage Level

 

Response measures

 

 

 

Above 70%

 

 

Existing water efficiency, leak detection, pressure management programs

 

'Typical' climate conditions

 

 

70%

 

 

Start additional leak detection & pressure management drought programs

 

'Moderate to severe' drought

 

 

 

 

 

65%

 

Start temporary desalination design & approvals

 

60%

 

 

Start extra Level 1 water efficiency program for households and businesses. Apply Level 1 restrictions.

 

50%

 

Start extra Level 2 water efficiency program for households and businesses. Apply Level 2 restrictions.

 

40%

 

Start extra Level 3 water efficiency program for households and businesses. Apply Level 3 restrictions.

 

35%

 

Start installing temporary desalination units

 

'Extreme' (rare) drought

 

 

30%

 

 

Start extra Level 4 water efficiency program for businesses. Apply Level 4 restrictions. Start operation of temporary desalination once installed.

 

More Information

Visit the Metropolitan Water Directorate Lower Hunter Water Plan website for more information including:
  • A summary of the Lower Hunter Water Plan, or download the full plan
  • A short video about the Lower Hunter Water Plan
  • How the Lower Hunter Water Plan was developed, including a video with community perspectives

Contact details for the Metropolitan Water Directorate can be found at www.metrowater.nsw.gov.au/contact