Increased demand from commercial water users resulted in Hunter Water increasing its production of recycled water by more than 20 per cent last financial year.
The NSW Auditor General’s 2018 report on Planning and Environment agencies also shows Hunter Water delivered a before tax profit of $94.3 million, up from $82.3 million in 2016-17.
Hunter Water’s increased recycled water output of 6.5 gigalitres was up on the 5.4 gigalitres it produced in 2017 and 2016. The result exceeded the organisation’s target for recycled water production.
In addition to commercial uses, recycled water is also used to water parks and ovals and irrigate farms.
At the same time, water usage per person increased from 0.2 kilolitres per day in 2017 to 0.3 kilolitres per day in 2018. This result fell within the organisation’s target.
Hunter Water’s combined storage levels stood at 82.9 per cent on December 27, up slightly on previous months.
The recently released Greater Hunter Regional Water Strategy confirmed that the promotion of water conservation is preferred over building a new permanent water storage.
Based on the current rate of population growth and usage patterns, it is not expected that a new Lower Hunter water storage will be needed until 2036.
“By working with our community to reduce water usage and reducing losses from our system, we will have an opportunity to consider new technologies and other innovative solutions that could help us save water, and possibly delay the need for a new water source indefinitely,” a Hunter Water spokesperson said.
The strategy was the first water blueprint developed for the Greater Hunter Region in 20 years. In that time the region has quadrupled its output of coal, experienced the deregulation of the power and dairy industries, and suffered a major drought that exposed significant water and energy security risks.
The blueprint also outlines a range of measures to ensure sustainable supply of water during times of shortfall including water sharing and stormwater harvesting.
The state government is also investing $4.3 million to investigate the viability of a two-way pipeline between Lostock Dam and Glennies Creek Dam and a potable water pipeline from Hunter Water’s network to Singleton as part of a plan to further enhance water security.
The pipeline projects would build on the 31-kilometre pipeline that was built between the Hunter and Central Coast in 2006 when water reserves on the Central Coast dropped to 10 per cent.