The NSW Government and Hunter water have released the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan and are inviting residents to have their say.

The plan has been three years in the making with a number of investigations and assessments undertaken as well as community consultation to ensure the communities concerns were heard and addressed.

A price increase for customers is anticipated due to the high cost of the planned infrastructure, however Hunter Water says bills will not change before July 1, 2024. Beyond that, there will likely be an increase to annual residential customer bills by between $75 and $120 per year.

Hunter Water Managing Director, Darren Cleary says the recent drought helped highlight areas of concern which are addressed in the plan.

“The recent drought rewrote the rules for many communities around New South Wales. New insights gained during the drought have confirmed that our region is more vulnerable to drought than we previously thought. The Hunter’s storages can go from typical operating levels to critical in less than three years. If drought were to continue beyond this, our region could run out of water.

“The plan looks at how we can ensure we can meet minimum water demands for the community through prolonged and severe drought and balancing the need to invest upfront with the need to not over invest given those events are rare, but certainly can occur,” Mr Cleary said.

The plan does not include any new dams, rather making better use of existing dams and supporting a pipeline connection between Lostock and Glennies Creek Dams in the Upper Hunter which will allow the dams to transfer water stocks between the regions.

NSW Minister for Water Melinda Pavey says she is proud of the comprehensive work involving a whole of government approach to ensure we have sustainable and resilient water supply.

The draft plan is currently on exhibition for six weeks and information and feedback can found here. A webinar will be held on August 24 for those needing more information. Registrations are open at the link provided.

Pictured: Chichester Dam
Image: VisitNSW