Planning our water future

We face an uncertain future, so we need keep our options open to ensure we have a sustainable and reliable supply of water now and for the future.

Understanding what our community values will inform our decisions around supply (where we get water from) and demand (how we use the water we have) options, and guide how we respond to drought and other stresses in the future. Learn more about the options we're considering.

We are working with our government partners, key stakeholders and community now to review the Lower Hunter Water Plan (LHWP) to ensure it remains adaptable and reflects our changing community values and priorities.

This new long-term will help us better adapt to future uncertainties, such as population growth and climate variability, as well as take advantage of opportunities like advances in technology.

Learn more about what's involved in developing the new Lower Hunter Water Plan.

We face an uncertain future, so we need keep our options open to ensure we have a sustainable and reliable supply of water now and for the future.

Understanding what our community values will inform our decisions around supply (where we get water from) and demand (how we use the water we have) options, and guide how we respond to drought and other stresses in the future. Learn more about the options we're considering.

We are working with our government partners, key stakeholders and community now to review the Lower Hunter Water Plan (LHWP) to ensure it remains adaptable and reflects our changing community values and priorities.

This new long-term will help us better adapt to future uncertainties, such as population growth and climate variability, as well as take advantage of opportunities like advances in technology.

Learn more about what's involved in developing the new Lower Hunter Water Plan.

  • Community helps shape our water future

    12 days ago
    Hunter Water is working with our government partners, key stakeholders and the community now to review the Lower Hunter Water Plan (LHWP) to ensure our region has a sustainable and resilient water system that can adapt and respond to change.


    Understanding our community values, attitudes and preferences is fundamental to our long-term planning. In late 2018, we hosted two deliberative forums with our community to talk about water and what’s important to them in long-term water planning.

    In June 2019, we held a second phase of deliberative forums to talk to the community about their preferences and perceptions of the...

    Hunter Water is working with our government partners, key stakeholders and the community now to review the Lower Hunter Water Plan (LHWP) to ensure our region has a sustainable and resilient water system that can adapt and respond to change.


    Understanding our community values, attitudes and preferences is fundamental to our long-term planning. In late 2018, we hosted two deliberative forums with our community to talk about water and what’s important to them in long-term water planning.

    In June 2019, we held a second phase of deliberative forums to talk to the community about their preferences and perceptions of the different water supply and demand option types being considered as part of the LHWP review.

    Reports on the findings from both phases of the deliberative forums are now available on our Your Voice - Planning our water future webpage.

    We’ll use the feedback we received at the forums and broader community engagement activities to make sure community values and preferences are reflected in our water planning decisions.


    For more information about the LHWP review and to tell us what you think of the option types being considered, please visit Your Voice - Planning our water future.

  • Water Pressure: The Lower Hunter is now viewed as a piece of an inter-connected water management puzzle (Newcastle Herald, 27 July 2019))

    about 2 months ago
    R0 0 2400 1659 w1200 h678 fmax

    Water Pressure: The Lower Hunter is now viewed as a piece of an inter-connected water management puzzle

    Article by Matthew Kelly

    Cracking up: An intrepid party alights from a boat at Chichester Dam in the 1960s.

    It's been a decade of seismic shifts in attitudes and approaches to water security in the Hunter and beyond.

    As the impact of drought worsens, the Lower Hunter, Upper Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast are increasingly viewed as pieces of an inter-connected water management puzzle.

    The decade began with government water authorities arguing that the proposed...

    Water Pressure: The Lower Hunter is now viewed as a piece of an inter-connected water management puzzle

    Article by Matthew Kelly

    Cracking up: An intrepid party alights from a boat at Chichester Dam in the 1960s.

    It's been a decade of seismic shifts in attitudes and approaches to water security in the Hunter and beyond.

    As the impact of drought worsens, the Lower Hunter, Upper Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-North Coast are increasingly viewed as pieces of an inter-connected water management puzzle.

    The decade began with government water authorities arguing that the proposed Tillegra Dam near Dungog was the silver bullet needed to drought-proof the Lower Hunter.

    The $477 million piece of infrastructure, which first appeared on water planning strategies in the 1960s, was designed to hold enough water to secure the region's water supply for decades to come.

    Former Labor premier Morris Iemma spectacularly announced the government was proceeding with the project in mid-2006, a move that many believe was designed to deflect attention away from the arrest of disgraced former Swansea MP Milton Orkopulous on child sex charges earlier that week.

    The proposal to build the 450 billion litre dam would polarise the Hunter community like few other issues over the next five years.

    Hunter Water prosecuted the argument that the dam would future-proof the region's water supply from the impact of climate change and population growth.

    But the opponents, which came from a wide cross-section of the community and academia, waged an effective grassroots campaign that showed the dam was not necessary and would instead result in unprecedented environmental damage to the Patterson and Williams rivers and surrounding ecosystems.

    On the eve of the March 2011 state election the Keneallygovernment announced it was scrapping the dam and would proceed with an alternative strategy for securing the region's water supply based on the principles of water conservation and recycling.

    Launched in 2014, the plan also placed an emphasis on responding to the impact of drought and climate change.

    "Historical rainfall records are no longer a good predictor of what the future might hold," Professor of sustainability at the University of Technology's Institute for Sustainable Futures Cynthia Mitchell said.

    "Our historical rainfall records are no longer a good predictor of what the future might hold,"

    Professor Cynthia Mitchell, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology.

    "The plan was saying what happens in the worst of all imaginable situations? It demonstrates is a degree of readiness when the rest of the country was trying to deal with the millennium drought."

    Within a year of being launched the plan had saved more than five billion litres of water-the equivalent of 2000 Olympic-sized swimming pools- through initiatives including a campaign to replace thousands of household shower heads and by working with the top one per cent of customers to identify ways to reduce their water use.

    Former Hunter Water chief executive Jim Bentley, who was recently appointed as the state's top waterbureaucrat, said the plan, while useful, was not a magic solution to achieving water security.

    "I think it has done some good. It has helped the various agencies better coordinate on water security and resilience, that's a good thing," Dr Bentley said.

    But, if, like me, you believe one of the fundamental keys to this [achieving water security] is the community valuing water in a different way I don't think the document, as written has helped that in any great way.

    "There's nothing wrong with the document but what it says is once you have written a document you can't put it on the shelf and bring it out at strategy days. It's a guide to the conversation that Hunter Water has with the communities it serves."

    The most recent population growth predictions for the Hunter region show water consumption will return to the levels they were at in the early 2000s by 2038.

    Big wet: A sight that many in the Hunter would love to see - the Grahamstown Dam's spillway overflowing in 2015.

    The issue of a new permanent water supply is not due to be revisited until about 2025. This date could be pushed back further again with improved inter-regional connectivity, increased water efficiency and enhanced technologies.

    One of these initiatives is Hunter Water's leak reduction program, which has reduced leakage across its network by about 20 per cent in recent years.

    "It's a fantastic result but we have got further to go. And we also need to look on the supply side. We will have to invest in some new infrastructure as well," Dr Bentley said.

    "The planning we're doing together with our colleagues and with the community is leading to a more portfolio approach for the next version of the Lower Hunter Water plan."

    Dr Steven Lucas from the University of Newcastle's school of environmental sciences said the Lower Hunter Water Plan represented a major step forward in water management. It's strengths were its emphasis on community consultation and the formation of an independent panel to oversee the plan

    "The key changes have been the creation of the water panel to get the Lower Hunter Water Plan up and running, so the community consultation side was much improved. It allowed things to be much more transparent in the way we are managing our water. Also the way the Hunter Water Corportation has related to the community in their processes, advertising and reporting. I think it has made that much better as well."

    The past decade has also seen a greater emphasis on improving connectivity between the Lower Hunter, Upper Hunter, Central Coast and Mid-Coast regions.

    The Greater Hunter Region Water Strategy, released in November 2018, aims to improve the management of water which is presently managed by through seven water-sharing plans, three major water utilities and numerous licence categories.

    Former water minister Niall Blair noted at the strategy's launch that the in the past 20 years the Greater Hunter Region had quadrupled its output of coal, experienced the deregulation of the power and dairy industries, and suffered a major drought that exposed significant water and energy security risks.

    At the heart of the strategy is a $4.3 million grant to investigate the viability of a two-way pipeline between Lostock Dam and Glennies Creek Dam and a potable water pipeline from Hunter Water's network to Singleton.

    The proposed Upper Hunter pipeline projects would build on the 31-kilometre pipeline that was built between the Hunter and Central Coast in 2006 when water reserves on the Central Coast dropped to 10 per cent.

  • Residents would pay more to save | Newcastle Herald (Jul 23, 2019 )

    about 2 months ago
    News article   23 july 1



  • Summary of the Community Deliberative Forums - Phase 2

    2 months ago


  • Water supply and demand options we're considering

    3 months ago

    Water supply options we're considering include:

    • Dams
    • Desalination – removing salt and minerals from salty water like seawater to make fresh water.
    • Groundwater - underground sources of water
    • Water sharing – using pipelines to move water from one area to another

    Water demand options we're considering include:

    Water supply options we're considering include:

    • Dams
    • Desalination – removing salt and minerals from salty water like seawater to make fresh water.
    • Groundwater - underground sources of water
    • Water sharing – using pipelines to move water from one area to another

    Water demand options we're considering include:

  • Snapshot of Phase 1 Deliberative Forums, 2018

    3 months ago


  • How we're working with community and stakeholders to develop the Lower Hunter Water Plan

    3 months ago
    Lower hunter water plan timeline



  • Community Deliberative Forums helping to shape our regions future

    3 months ago
    Img 3374 deliberative forum maitland 26jun19

    Thank you to the 160 people from a cross section of our region who participated in the recent Deliberative Forums, held on 25 and 26 June in Newcastle and Maitland.

    The outcomes of these deliberative forums will play a key role in helping shape our decision making. Through a series of exercises and discussions, we sought to understand our community's preferences and attitudes to seven options types including conservation, recycling, dams and desalination options.

    Following the forums, we'll build on the feedback we receive to develop specific schemes and proposals. We'll continue to work and engage with our community throughout the entire review process. A summary of the outcomes from the forums will be available shortly.

    We are working with our community and the NSW Government to plan for the region's long term future, with a review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan now underway.

    Thank you to the 160 people from a cross section of our region who participated in the recent Deliberative Forums, held on 25 and 26 June in Newcastle and Maitland.

    The outcomes of these deliberative forums will play a key role in helping shape our decision making. Through a series of exercises and discussions, we sought to understand our community's preferences and attitudes to seven options types including conservation, recycling, dams and desalination options.

    Following the forums, we'll build on the feedback we receive to develop specific schemes and proposals. We'll continue to work and engage with our community throughout the entire review process. A summary of the outcomes from the forums will be available shortly.

    We are working with our community and the NSW Government to plan for the region's long term future, with a review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan now underway.

  • Community workshops in Lower Hunter Water plan review

    3 months ago
     mg 3632 deliberative forum newcastle 25jun19
    Hunter Water is working together with its community and the NSW Government to plan for the region’s long term future, with a review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan underway.

    Hunter Water is updating the Plan, alongside the NSW Government’s water team and Central Coast Council, to ensure there is a sustainable supply of water in the long term, as well as during times of drought.

    Two workshop-style deliberative forums will be held in Newcastle tonight and Maitland tomorrow night, with invitations extended to 160 people from a cross-section of the Lower Hunter community. The forums aim to understand their...

    Hunter Water is working together with its community and the NSW Government to plan for the region’s long term future, with a review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan underway.

    Hunter Water is updating the Plan, alongside the NSW Government’s water team and Central Coast Council, to ensure there is a sustainable supply of water in the long term, as well as during times of drought.

    Two workshop-style deliberative forums will be held in Newcastle tonight and Maitland tomorrow night, with invitations extended to 160 people from a cross-section of the Lower Hunter community. The forums aim to understand their values and attitudes to different supply and demand option types to inform our water planning decisions.

    Hunter Water Managing Director Jim Bentley said it’s important that as a community we manage our precious resource well and protect it for future generations.

    “In a time when most of NSW is in drought, we need to be vigilant about how we’re using water and how we’re conserving it. With our storages at a 13-year low and the potential for water restrictions in the coming months, we must use and manage this precious resource wisely, both now and in the future.
    “We’re reviewing the Lower Hunter Water Plan to ensure we meet our region’s long term water supply needs and so that we’re prepared to respond to drought. We don’t know what the future holds, which is why we’re planning now and working with our community so that we can understand what our options are.
    “This week’s deliberative forums will play a key role in helping shape our decision making. Through a series of exercises and discussions, we want to understand our community’s preferences and attitudes to seven options types including conservation, recycling, dams and desalination options.

    “Following the forums, we’ll build on the feedback we receive to develop specific schemes and proposals. We’ll continue to work and engage with our community throughout the entire review process.
    “It’s really important to Hunter Water that we develop our plans for the future with the community that we serve. It’s also important we’re bringing our expertise together with the values of our community so that we develop a future that meets their expectations and aspirations,” said Mr Bentley.

    Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said the Lower Hunter Water Plan is a whole-of-government initiative that would ensure the sustainable supply of water for the region.

    “Water is critical to life. Not only is it essential that the Lower Hunter has a safe and secure water supply for years to come, but it’s vital we protect this resource for the community’s health, wellbeing and liveability,” Mr Johnsen said.

    “The Lower Hunter Water Plan confirms Hunter Water’s and the Nationals in Government’s commitment to sustainable long term water management in the region. We’ll be working closely together throughout the review process, before the new Plan is released in 2021.”

  • Learning with our peers

    3 months ago
    Emma presenting at ap iwm meeting 2

    Hunter Water recently hosted the Water Services Association of Australia Adaptive Planning and Integrated Water Management Network meeting, attended by industry experts from across Australia.

    Participants gathered in Newcastle to exchange information and ideas about adaptive planning, integrated water management, climate variability and long-term water planning.

    Hunter Water’s Program Director for Water Resilience Emma Berry said the meeting was an opportunity to share best practice with our industry peers.

    “Members came together to challenge existing thinking and learn from the experiences of others as we plan our water future together.”

    Presenters included...

    Hunter Water recently hosted the Water Services Association of Australia Adaptive Planning and Integrated Water Management Network meeting, attended by industry experts from across Australia.

    Participants gathered in Newcastle to exchange information and ideas about adaptive planning, integrated water management, climate variability and long-term water planning.

    Hunter Water’s Program Director for Water Resilience Emma Berry said the meeting was an opportunity to share best practice with our industry peers.

    “Members came together to challenge existing thinking and learn from the experiences of others as we plan our water future together.”

    Presenters included experts from the University of Newcastle, Monash University, Melbourne Water, Water Corporation, SA Water and Hunter Water.