to remove new dams from the list of options being considered for the Lower
Hunter Water plan.
('Dams off the agenda', Newcastle Herald, 2 May 2013,http://j.mp/th130502)
Dr Kaye said: "It's been a long, drawn-out saga for the Hunter community
but at last the NSW government has landed somewhere sensible.
"Unlike Tillegra dam or its cut down cousin, Native Dog Creek, the short
and medium term water supply options that remain on the table are all
cost-effective, environmentally acceptable, job creating and easy on
household water bills.
"If it had not been for the mismanagement of the previous Labor government
and Hunter Water's failure to stand up for its consumers, we could have
avoided six years of anxiety and uncertainty.
"Even the remaining emergency desalination option is very different to the
original massive energy and money eating water plant that the previous
government and Hunter Water threatened to build if Tillegra had been
"Because of its costs and its environmental impacts, desalination should
only be considered after all other options have been exhausted.
"The Hunter now has the opportunity to keep water bills down and avoid
massive damage to the Williams River and the Lower Hunter wetlands.
"Improved water efficiency can take the pressure off the Lower Hunter
wetlands that are in real trouble. Starved of the flood flows that are
largely diverted to Grahamstown dam, salt levels are rising and bird
populations are in long term decline.
"Rescuing these wetlands is important not just for their environmental
values, but to protect the future of the fishing and prawning industries.
"It's a testament to the campaign run by community and environment groups
like No Tillegra Dam and the Save the Williams River Coalition that new
dams are now off the table," Dr Kaye said.
For more information: John Kaye 0407 195 455
Full Day Hansard Transcript (Legislative Council, 30 April 2013)
LOWER HUNTER REGION WATER PLAN
The Hon. RICK COLLESS: My question is directed to the Minister for Finance
and Services. Will he update the House on the latest progress in developing
the Lower Hunter Water Plan?
The Hon. GREG PEARCE: The Government is determined to create a
comprehensive, robust, cost-effective, whole-of-government plan to ensure
water security for the lower Hunter region. Development of the plan is
being overseen by an independent panel of water experts, with ongoing input
from the community. This week I am very pleased to be able to announce a
short list of supply and demand options that will be further investigated
as part of the plan. The shortlisted options cover a range of drinking
water supply and demand categories, such as stormwater capture, recycling,
demand management, water efficiency, surface water transfers, groundwater,
and emergency desalination.
The demand forecast for the region is a key part of that process, and it
has been revised. The most recent model shows that growth in demand is
lower than previously predicted and that major augmentation of supply is
not needed in the short to medium term. However, modelling also has shown
that while the existing water supply system performs well in normal
conditions, the region is vulnerable to severe drought. The options
shortlisted for further investigation take that into account and have been
selected from more than 70 initial concepts. As the Government has always
said, the Lower Hunter Water Plan will look at all options, other than the
previously rejected Tillegra Dam. We now have sufficient information from
the modelling work done to date and the community consultation workshops
conducted so far to also rule out the need for us to construct a new dam in
the region as part of the plan.
In fact, three landholdings that Hunter Water had earlier acquired for the
previous Government's proposal to build Tillegra Dam already have been
placed on the market. While the shortlisted options are all technically
feasible, that does not mean that they will all be included in the final
mix of measures recommended in the plan. We need to compare the financial,
social and environmental features of each option to identify resilient
combinations that will meet the region's need throughout a severe drought
at the least cost to the community. The options we are considering taking
forward include programs to improve water efficiency and the introduction
of "Water Wise Rules", as used successfully in Sydney and the Central
Coast. They include new stormwater and wastewater recycling opportunities
and potentially new groundwater options. There is also the potential to
transfer water from nearby areas for use in the Hunter, if necessary. Those
options are being investigated in close consultation with the appropriate
As I stated previously, the Government will not be proceeding with any
proposals to construct new dams in the region. The Government fully
understands that there will be strong community interest in many of those
options. We are committed to giving the community every opportunity to
contribute input. That is why we will be running a series of community
engagement workshops over the next week. The next series of workshops will
be the third undertaken since work on the plan began and demonstrates our
continued commitment to community consultation. I urge anyone who is
interested in the future of lower Hunter water supplies to participate in
the workshops. Information about the shortlisted options are also on the
Lower Hunter Water Plan website—
www.haveyoursay.nsw.gov.au/lowerhunterwaterplan. I encourage members of the
community to take advantage of this great opportunity to provide input and
have their say in the Lower Hunter Water Plan's processes.