Earlier this month the NSW Government announced its plan to work towards ensuring the lower Hunter has sufficient water supplies in the event of a long drought.
Released by Minister for Finance and Services Andrew Constance he said the Lower Hunter Water Plan has been developed by the Metropolitan Water Directorate, a division of the Department of Finance and Services, in consultation with local water authority Hunter Water.
“The plan sets out a range of responses to a severe or prolonged drought, and considers the impact on regional water supply over the next two decades from a forecast 20 per cent increase in the local population,” he said.
“Thousands of different scenarios were modelled for the plan, including droughts worse than experienced in the last hundred years. The region has been very fortunate not to have suffered from drought over the last few decades, but this is no guarantee for the future.
“The fact is that the lower Hunter remains quite vulnerable to drought due to the speed at which water storage levels fall in prolonged periods of hot, dry weather.
“Water storage levels have dropped by almost 15 per cent since December 2013. Chichester Dam is relatively small, while Grahamstown Dam is wide and shallow, and on hot days it can lose as much in evaporation as from usage.
“It's important that the Government invests in new infrastructure only when needed. By deferring investment for as long as is possible, Hunter Water's customers can avoid paying for unnecessary infrastructure.
“The plan has been developed with an unprecedented level of public consultation and inter-agency cooperation, and therefore not only represents community views, but is based on good science.”
Business and industry account for 31 per cent of water used in the lower Hunter region whilst households make up 56 per cent of all water used in the region using 175,000 litres of water per year.
Copies of the Lower Hunter Water Plan are available at the Metropolitan Water website.