The NSW Government is shoring up water security for the Lower Hunter with planning approval granted for a new desalination plant in Belmont providing an enduring supply of water for the Lower Hunter.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing, Melinda Pavey, said the Hunter was one of the regional areas which was hit hard during the last drought. 

“Regional communities endured the worst drought on recent record and we are working to better drought-proof our communities,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The Lower Hunter’s storages are relatively small and shallow, resulting in water levels dropping quickly. In a severe drought, water storages can drop from typical operating levels to 15 per cent in less than three years.

“This plant is a key action from the 2014 Lower Hunter Water Plan to help secure our water supply during drought, alongside conservation measures including reducing leakages, using groundwater from the Tomago Sandbeds, and water transfers between regions.”

Hunter Water Managing Director, Darren Cleary, said the planning approval provides the Lower Hunter with certainty should an additional source of water be needed during drought.

“With assessment of this important project now complete, the plant’s detailed design and construction can begin for when it’s needed,” Mr Cleary said.

“The approval ensures Hunter Water is able to build a new desalination plant to deliver up to 30 million litres of drinking water each day, during severe drought conditions.”

More extensive actions on water conservation will be outlined in the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan, which will be released for public comment in August 2021.