After a dry summer, which saw our dams fall to their lowest levels in a decade, autumn failed to deliver the rainfall we had hoped for. The start of winter however brought some welcome relief, with decent rainfall providing a boost to our dams.
While we now find ourselves in a slightly better position compared with a few weeks ago, the need to conserve our precious resource remains just as important. In order for us to truly value water and ensure meaningful change in the future, we need to make a lasting change to our water use, not just in response to conditions or circumstances.
While we can’t control the weather, as a community we can control our water consumption, and work together to explore all options to improve water security with the best outcomes for water bill payers and the environment.
Reducing our usage now will mean that if the rest of the winter is dry, we will start summer with storage levels in a reasonable position. If we can keep our usage low this will allow us time to embrace new technologies and deliver other innovative solutions, hopefully reducing the need to build large scale, expensive new infrastructure.
It is important for Hunter Water to do all it can to learn with our communities about ways to save our precious resource and promote a more sustainable future.
On average, Hunter households use 172 thousand litres of water each year, which is about 10 per cent higher than best practice in places such as Victoria and south eastern Queensland.
Rather than telling people how they can or can’t use water, our Love Water campaign aims to encourage the community to value water and to take action to be more water wise. One action we are encouraging customers to take is to visit the water use calculator on our website to understand the savings they could make.
This is an important time in our water planning. The population in our region is expected to increase by almost 120,000 over the next 20 years. At this rate of growth, and with current usage patterns, total demand is expected to surpass what we can supply by 2036.
Rather than simply building large scale, expensive infrastructure, we think it is important for us to learn together as a community about the water future we want, and how we could bring this about.
Keeping our options open on the long-term water future of the Hunter doesn’t mean we are taking risks with water security for the region. Hunter Water is in the process of obtaining planning approvals for a temporary desalination plant at Belmont. This was one of Hunter Water’s obligations under the whole-of-Government Lower Hunter Water Plan released in 2014.
If we ultimately need to build this small plant, it will not address the long term supply and demand shortfall. Instead, it provides an important insurance policy in the event of a severe drought. We would only build it if, despite our best efforts to be more efficient, water storage levels fall unacceptably low.
If we can learn to Love Water together, I believe the Hunter will be in the best possible position to make a decision on its water future, and ensure it is sustainable, efficient and viable for generations to come.
My thanks to all in our community for the steps they are making to value water more, whether by reducing their consumption or by helping us to reduce our losses. Together we can do it.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.