Dams off the agenda

A NEW dam in the Hunter is officially off the table while ‘‘water wise’’ rules such as a ban on hosing driveways are on the shortlist of measures being considered to secure the region’s water supply.

Finance and Services Minister Greg Pearce confirmed in State Parliament the government will not proceed ‘‘with any proposals to construct new dams in the region’’ as part of the new Lower Hunter Water Plan being drawn up.

‘‘We now have sufficient information from the modelling work done to date and the community consultation workshops conducted so far to also rule out the need for us to construct a new dam in the region as part of the plan,’’ Mr Pearce told the upper house this week.

Alternatives have been narrowed down to water efficiency measures, wastewater recycling, rainwater tanks, stormwater harvesting, and an emergency desalination plant.

The Newcastle Herald has previously revealed water-sharing arrangements with the Central Coast will form the centrepiece of the plan.

Mr Pearce further revealed ‘‘water wise’’ rules were also being examined. Those that apply in Sydney include a ban on hosing paved driveways and footpaths and requiring watering to be done before 10am or after 4pm to avoid the heat of the day.

The government had promised it would not build Tillegra dam, but until now had left itself wiggle room by not explicitly ruling out any new dam.

Greens MP John Kaye, who helped spearhead the local campaign against a new dam, said Mr Pearce’s words put an end to a ‘‘long, drawn-out saga for the Hunter community’’.

‘‘Unlike Tillegra dam or its cut-down cousin, Native Dog Creek, the short and medium-term water supply options that remain on the table are all cost-effective, environmentally acceptable, job creating and easy on household water bills,’’ Dr Kaye said.

‘‘Even the remaining emergency desalination option is very different to the original massive energy and money-eating water plant that the previous government and Hunter Water threatened to build if Tillegra had been rejected.’’

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