The project would benefit the region by:
- increasing water security for current and future users
- increasing the region’s drought resilience by reducing the need for alternative water sources
- improving water resilience to assist in mitigating climate change and variability impacts
- supporting economic diversification and the changing needs in the region.
The proposed project would provide greater flexibility to manage overall supply and demand within the Hunter Valley by linking the Hunter region’s eastern zone (known for higher rainfall and catchment runoff) with the region’s western zone (given its large water storage capacity).
The project was recommended as a long-term water security solution for the Hunter in Infrastructure NSW’s State Infrastructure Strategy 2018–2038, the Department of Planning and Environment’s Greater Hunter Regional Water Strategy and the Lower Hunter Water Security Plan 2022.
The proposed project is in the planning stage with Water Infrastructure NSW currently developing the final business case in partnership with Hunter Water. All major infrastructure investment decisions taken by the NSW Government are required to be supported by a final business case.
The partner agencies have undertaken a range of activities this year at key sites across the project area to help identify the potentially affected communities, landholders and other stakeholders, the potential infrastructure and route options for the project and to assess water demand and possible hydrological effects.
These activities included:
- stakeholder mapping to identify the potentially affected landholders and communities
- engagement/communication with potentially affected landholders to discuss the project, the different assessments to be undertaken on their land and to arrange access
- environmental, social, land use and heritage investigations to inform potential infrastructure options and possible effects
- geotechnical and ground condition assessments to inform potential infrastructure options
- water demand assessments to understand historical, current and future water demand in the Hunter region
- hydrological modelling to understand the benefits and possible effects of the proposed infrastructure options on the current water system
- preliminary engineering concept design.
The information/data gained through these activities will inform the final business case for the project, which is expected to be submitted in mid-2024.
Whether the project ultimately proceeds will depend on the outcomes of the final business case assessment by the NSW Government, which includes a comprehensive environmental assessment, and funding availability.
Water Infrastructure NSW and Hunter Water are currently in the process of reviewing and consolidating the assessments undertaken, as well as considering the community and landholder feedback received to date, to assess the proposed infrastructure options and the potential changes to water sharing arrangements.
Once this has occurred, the agency partners will identify the preferred infrastructure options and water sharing arrangement scenarios to take forward as part of the final business case.
As part of this process both partner agencies will continue to engage with the community, First Nations people, industry and water users on the project.
Community and stakeholder engagement
Water Infrastructure NSW and Hunter Water are committed to building and maintaining respectful, trusted and collaborative relationships with relevant communities and stakeholders to ensure this proposed water infrastructure project achieves the best possible outcomes.
To date, Water Infrastructure NSW and Hunter Water have engaged extensively with the community, First Nations people, landholders, water users and industry on the project via:
- face-to-face community engagements, including holding community information sessions in September and December 2022, exhibiting at Tocal Field Day in May 2023 and holding community drop-in sessions in August 2023
- direct engagement/communication with more than 40 landholders across the project area to discuss the proposed project, assessments and studies to be undertaken, and to organise land access
- meetings with Local Aboriginal Land Councils in the region and participation of First Nations groups and Registered Aboriginal Parties in field investigations and cultural and heritage assessments to provide cultural monitoring
- targeted engagements with relevant local councils, recreational clubs, specific water user groups, including the Hunter Valley Water Users Association and Tidal Pool Users group, and local industry through regional business forums.
The feedback received will help inform the future development of the project and is an important part of the final business case to be submitted to Infrastructure NSW.
Engagement on the project is ongoing, and both partner agencies will continue to provide opportunities for local communities and stakeholders, including Traditional Owners and First Nations communities, to have their say on the project as it progresses.
Upcoming public engagement opportunities will be highlighted on the Department of Planning and Environment’s project webpage and on the Water Group’s stakeholder engagement page.
For more information about engagement opportunities specific to Hunter Water’s proposed work at Paterson, Tocal/Mindaribba and the pipeline between Paterson and Maitland visit Hunter Water’s website.
Past community information sessions
In December 2022, community members were invited to several information sessions to learn more about the proposed project, ask questions and provide feedback to the project team.
View the presentation given at the Tocal session (PDF, 2660.65 KB)
For more information about the proposed pipeline or to enquire about any of the project activities email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 081 047.
For more information about Hunter Water’s proposed work at Paterson, Tocal/Mindaribba and the pipeline between Paterson and Maitland visit hunterwater.com.au/Paterson