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Discussions and planning are in place for the proposed desalination plant at Belmont to be operating earlier than expected. Water storage levels for the Lower Hunter have reached 65 percent for the first time in 21 years and the desalination plant is due to commence operation when levels reach 35 percent, which is now due to be reached in the first half of 2020. The desalination plant is in the final stages of approval and will be capable of supplying up to 15 million litres of water per day to the Hunter when in operation.

The Hunter’s water strategy has always been a hot topic ranging from the proposal of the Tillegra Dam near Dungog to the latest Greater Hunter Region Water Strategy released in November 2018. The current strategy aims to improve the management of water through seven water-sharing plans, three major water utilities and numerous licence categories. This strategy included a $4.3 million grant to investigate the viability of a two-way pipeline between Locstock Dam and Glennies Creek Dam and a portable water pipeline from Hunter Water’s network to Singleton.

A number of other initiatives are in place with level 1 water restrictions for the region potentially being introduced in mid-September. Another initiative is the exploration of sustainable supply by recycling water, with Orica being one of the most successful companies to achieve this. Orica’s Kooragang Island plant was one of the Lower Hunter’s largest consumers of potable water and is now one the region’s biggest users of recycled water, having reduced their water usage by 90 percent in less than a decade.

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