PRECIOUS drinking water will be saved as Hunter Water plans to pipe eight Olympic swimming pools, or 20 million litres, of recycled water to sports fields in Lake Macquarie each year.
Taking lessons from what many called the 'worst drought in living memory', which decimated crops and saw regional cities like Tamworth almost run out of water in 2019, Hunter Water is taking steps to shore up water supplies before the next one.
The $6 million project will see recycled wastewater from the Edgeworth treatment plant piped to Jack McLaughlan and Edgeworth ovals, as well as the $15 million Pasterfield Sports Complex in Cameron Park.
Recycling water isn't new, in fact, Hunter Water has been supplying the Waratah Golf Course for the last 25 years, managing director Darren Cleary said.
"We've just released our long-term water security plan for the lower Hunter and we're looking at what we need to do to ensure we have a resilient water supply and can withstand drought or any other disruption," he said.
"We are susceptible in drought, in the last one we didn't fall as far as Tamworth but we did still have a fairly significant drought and it dropped very rapidly.
"It's very wet at the moment but one thing is certain, drought will return, we don't know when but it will return."
The project is still in the design and investigation phase, but Hunter Water anticipates it will start the build next year with recycled water to be irrigating fields by early 2024.
A pump station and pipeline will need to be built as part of the project.
Not only will it save potable water, the plan will have economic benefits for both Hunter Water and Lake Macquarie City Council.
Mayor Kay Fraser said she hopes it's just the beginning of a partnership that could one day see recycled water used to garden or for laundry at people's homes.
"We can see what's happening around the world today, we need to start reusing what we can and reducing our waste," she said.
"I think we need to be innovative in this space, we need to start thinking about our water, how much of a commodity it is and how much of a scarce commodity it is when we have drought.
"We live in Australia and we know we have extreme weather events, so we need to talk about recycled water and how we can use it and the community needs to be thinking about that as well."
Hunter Water has previously supplied recycled water for industrial use at Eraring Power Station and Orica, through to residential schemes at Gillieston Heights and Chisholm.
It also supplied the Oceanic Coal Washery before it closed.
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