The existing dams in the lower Hunter (Chichester and Grahamstown) will continue to supply most of the region’s water needs. Transferring water between regions is also a core component of the Lower Hunter Water Plan. The existing two-way agreement with the Central Coast can facilitate better use of existing storages so that both regions are more resilient to cope with drought.
Dams play a vital and ongoing role in supplying drinking water for the lower Hunter region. Around 90 per cent of the region’s drinking water supply comes from Chichester Dam and Grahamstown Dam, with the other 10 per cent supplied from groundwater. These amounts can vary from year to year. Hunter Water manages the dams, and works in partnership with the Hunter Local Land Services (previously known as the Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority), local councils, landholders, government agencies and other stakeholders to protect the health of the drinking water catchments.
Water can also be transferred between the lower Hunter and Central Coast water supply networks under an agreement developed in 2006, when the Central Coast experienced a severe drought. Under the agreement, water can also be transferred north to the lower Hunter if needed during a future drought. The ability to transfer water between the two regions during droughts will be important in making best use of existing storages and improving drought resilience in both regions. The modelling of transfers to and from the Central Coast will be refined as a tool for optimising transfer arrangements in the future.
The NSW Office of Water will continue reviewing water sharing plans and will implement related refinements of environmental flow rules through amendments to water licences and approvals.