A review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan will commence on Tuesday night with a community workshop at Newcastle City Hall.
Hunter Water, Central Coast Council and the state government are updating the 2014 plan to ensure there is a sustainable supply of water, particularly during times of drought.
A workshop will be held in Newcastle on Tuesday night followed by a second workshop in Maitland on Wednesday night. Invitations have been extended to 160 people from a cross-section of the Lower Hunter community.
The forums aim to understand values and attitudes to different supply and demand option types to inform water planning decisions.
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"In a time when most of NSW is in drought, we need to be vigilant about how we're using water and how we're conserving it," Hunter Water Managing Director Jim Bentley said.
"With our storages at a 13-year low and the potential for water restrictions in the coming months, we must use and manage this precious resource wisely, both now and in the future.
"We're reviewing the Lower Hunter Water Plan to ensure we meet our region's long term water supply needs and so that we're prepared to respond to drought. We don't know what the future holds, which is why we're planning now and working with our community so that we can understand what our options are.
"This week's deliberative forums will play a key role in helping shape our decision making. Through a series of exercises and discussions, we want to understand our community's preferences and attitudes to seven options types including conservation, recycling, dams and desalination options.
Feedback from the forums will be used to develop specific schemes and proposals.
Member for Upper Hunter Michael Johnsen said the Lower Hunter Water Plan was a whole-of-government initiative that would ensure the sustainable supply of water for the region.
"Water is critical to life. Not only is it essential that the Lower Hunter has a safe and secure water supply for years to come, but it's vital we protect this resource for the community's health, wellbeing and liveability," Mr Johnsen said.
"The Lower Hunter Water Plan confirms Hunter Water's and the government's commitment to sustainable long term water management in the region. We'll be working closely together throughout the review process, before the new Plan is released in 2021."