Community feedback sought for drought response desalination plant

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is asking for feedback on an application by Hunter Water for a drought response desalination plant at Belmont.

Executive Director, Infrastructure Assessments, David Gainsford, said community input is a vital part of the planning process and encouraged everyone to have their say on the draft proposal.

“Hunter Water has lodged a State Significant Infrastructure application for a desalination plant at Belmont which could be used to supplement the Lower Hunter’s water supplies during times of extreme drought,” Mr Gainsford said.

“The desalination plant, which is considered State Significant Infrastructure, would be able to make 15 million litres of fresh water each day from seawater. This would cater for over ten per cent of the Lower Hunter’s water needs during periods when Level 3 water restrictions are in place.”

Mr Gainsford said if required, the drought response desalination plant would be built next to the Belmont Wastewater Treatment Plant off Ocean Park Road at Belmont.

It is one several drought response measures set out in the Lower Hunter Water Plan. These measures include reducing demand and increasing supply.

“The proposal before the Department is for a $87 million desalination plant. It includes construction of seawater intake wells, process units, and upgrades to power and water connections,” Mr Gainsford said.

“Hunter Water advises it has further plans for associated pipeline infrastructure that could bring its overall investment to about $100 million.

“The reverse osmosis plant would pump in seawater which would be filtered to remove salt and impurities providing fresh water for the Lower Hunter community. Desalinated water would be tested to ensure it meets drinking water quality requirements. Remaining brine water would be pumped back into the ocean via the existing Belmont Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall.”

Mr Gainsford said the proposal is on public exhibition until Thursday 19 December 2019 with community members invited to make submissions.

“We want to hear from the community about their views on this proposal to help us undertake a thorough and rigorous assessment and ensure any potential impacts to the surrounding area and local residents are considered,” Mr Gainsford said.

“The Department will consider all community submissions along with advice and feedback from government agencies including Lake Macquarie City Council.”

The State Significant Infrastructure (SSI) Application, Environmental Impact Statement and accompanying documents can be viewed on the Department’s website.

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