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Residents support Lower Hunter Water Security Plan

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Residents have resoundingly backed the draft Lower Hunter Water Security Plan (LHWSP), with 69% of respondents supporting the proposed approach.

The whole-of-government scheme was on public exhibition for seven weeks from 9 August, seeking community and stakeholder feedback with 210 submissions received.

It also included numerous presentations to groups and organisations, a public webinar and a summary of the plan sent to 235,000 houses across the region encouraging comment.

NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said preliminary results show the community supports the draft LHWSP and its principles, priorities and actions.

“The residents’ strong endorsement of the LHWSP, a foundation for the region’s economic development, inspires confidence in the future direction of Greater Newcastle and the Hunter for the 40-year life of the plan,” she explained.

“I’m grateful to the Lower Hunter community for participating in the in-depth engagement process during the past three years.

“We now have a rigorous, comprehensive plan to underpin the region’s growth, liveability and quality of life.”

Hunter Water managing director Darren Cleary said the community had overwhelmingly backed water conservation and reducing leaks as actions in the draft plan.

“To see all proposed LHWSP actions supported is testament to how highly residents value water,” he stated.

“Our region is more vulnerable to drought than previously thought, so it’s crucial we all love water and keep our storages fuller for longer.

“We know external shocks require us to improve the resilience of the water supply system and, at 85% support, the community clearly backs this priority.

“We’ll work to meet expectations of a reliable water supply to withstand drought to ensure ongoing regional prosperity and benefit to the unique Lower Hunter environment.”

The survey results show community support for each of the LHWSP principles and priority areas was greater than 79%.

Two-thirds of respondents accepted that increased water security requires Hunter Water to make investments that are likely to increase annual residential customer bills by between $75 and $120 on average (between six and nine per cent for the average residential customer).

Hunter Water, with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, continues to review and consider all submissions and matters raised during the public exhibition period.

“We will report back to the community with further detail about what people valued and what concerned them by the end of the year,” Mr Cleary said.

The final plan is expected to be published in early 2022.

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