For Newcastle Racecourse manager Matt Benson, the state of the city's parched parks and playing fields settles the argument about the need to reuse wastewater from the Burwood Treatment Plant.
Mr Benson has just returned from holidays in Adelaide where the use of recycled water has helped keep the city's parks and gardens alive during one of the most severe droughts on record.
"Adelaide has half the rainfall as Newcastle but it makes Newcastle look like something out of the United Arab Emirates," he said.
While Newcastle's parks and gardens wither in the drought, about 45 megalitres of treated effluent is being discharged into the ocean from the nearby Burwood treatment plant every day.
Mr Benson and Merewether Golf Club are lobbying to have this water, which has been treated and disinfected, redirected seven kilometres to a wetland reservoir in the middle of the racecourse.
From there the water would be pumped to various locations across the city including Foreshore Park and the Broadmeadow sports and entertainment precinct.
The ambitious proposal, costed at about $15 million, has already received the backing of major stakeholder groups, including the City of Newcastle, which would directly benefit from the scheme.
In addition to serving as a water reservoir, the project would also function as an environmental education centre for schools and community groups.
Despite promising early talks with Hunter Water in 2018, the project floundered after an economic analysis found the project's overall social and environmental benefits did not outweigh the financial cost.
Mr Benson is hopeful that an upcoming meeting between the racecourse, the golf club and Hunter Water can reinvigorate the project.
"It's not just about having more water to put on the garden. It's about creating a more sustainable community by making better use of one of our most precious resources," he said.
A Hunter Water spokeswoman said the organisation was engaging with a range of stakeholders to explore the feasibility of the project.
"As part of our investigations, we sought expressions of interest from private industry in late 2019 to determine their ability to assist us in the delivery of recycled water," she said.
"The outcomes of the EOI are being used to develop specific recycled schemes. We are also proposing to invest additional funding for recycled water opportunities to irrigate public spaces such as parks, sporting grounds and gardens."
The spokeswoman said Hunter Water was also working with the racecourse to find ways to reduce its water consumption in the lead-up to Level 2 restrictions.
"This work has involved installing data loggers on site and carrying out a detailed audit to understand its water usage and develop a Water Efficiency Management Plan," she said.
Hunter Water recycled 6.02 billion litres of wastewater last financial year, or 13 per cent of the total wastewater generated.