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Planning our water future

Planning our water future

Planning our water future

 It is important that we continue to plan for the Central Coast’s future water needs.

As the Central Coast grows, so does the demand for water. However, our current infrastructure can only supply us with a limited amount of water, so we need to address ways to grow our supply, to meet our future demand levels.

The plan

There have been significant changes in environmental factors, water infrastructure, the operating environment and knowledge in the 13 years since we last planned for our region’s long-term water security. Those changes, combined with a steadily growing Central Coast community, and the current review of the Lower Hunter Water Security Plan by our neighbouring region, mean it is important to review our long-term water plans.

Together we’ll develop a plan that will secure the Coast’s water supply for future generations. This will be called the Central Coast Water Security Plan. This will help our collaborative work with Hunter Water and the Department of Planning Industry and Environment to make sure both the Central Coast and Lower Hunter regions have water strategies that can work side by side.

Where are we now?

We're in the process of drafting the plan, which will be published for final community feedback in late 2021. All the feedback we’ve received from the community will be considered alongside other ongoing investigations, modelling and analysis.

After public exhibition, the plan will be finalised and provided to the NSW Department of Industry and Environment for approval.

For more information on the options we considered, check out our educational animation below. 

 

Working with our community

Understanding our community’s values and preferences is a vital part of our long-term planning.

Over the past few months, we have worked with our community to understand their values around water and their views on the different water supply and demand options we're considering, and the portfolios we have grouped them in, as part of the Central Coast Water Security Plan. 

The community are invited to check out our:

  • engagement snapshot: a two page snapshot on how we consulted with the community and the top results
  • engagement summary: a ten page summary on how we consulted with the community, and more in-depth results

We are still in the process of crunching all the numbers for our full consultation report – it will be ready in the coming weeks. Sign up for our project updates to be notified when it is ready. 

Open

Timeline

7
Draft plan being developed (community feedback is being considered along side technical work and analysis)
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Who's listening

Who's listening
Name
Charles Leung, Project Manager

Have you consulted with the community on this project?

Understanding our community’s values and preferences is a vital part of our long-term planning. Take a look at the snapshot of the community consultation that we undertook - including the top results. 

We’ve used forums and online engagement to find out what the community values about water and what they think about different supply and demand options we’re considering. 

We have also undertaken complex, robust investigations and analysis to ensure that we understand the environmental and social aspects, technical feasibility and costs of the option types.

Through forums held with a representative selection of our community, we’ve learned that water quality is their most important consideration when it comes to our water supply. In line with this, all options we’re considering as part of the Water Security Plan would meet strict water quality requirements.

Community feedback will be considered alongside other ongoing investigations, modelling and analysis. The portfolios will become a key component of the revised Water Security Plan, which we’re aiming to release by the end of this year.

In late 2021 a draft of the Water Security Plan will be published for final community feedback.

This plan will be the culmination of community engagement, liaison with key government agencies and industry, and expert technical studies and recommendations.

After public exhibition, the plan will be finalised and provided to the NSW Department of Industry and Environment for approval.

 

Is Council going to build another dam?

The construction of a new dam was one of the many shortlisted options that Council investigated. 

However, a feasibility assessment identified that the construction of a new dam would face high and environmental challenges – significantly higher than the equivalent (or greater) capacity that can be provided by the option of raising Mangrove Creek Dam.

Is Council still building a desalination plant at Toukley?

Council is seeking to modify the existing planning approval for the possible construction of a drought response desalination plant adjacent to Toukley Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

This is our insurance policy in case of unprecedented drought conditions. In order to do this, Council will need to engage with the community and undertake a series of studies including intake location, water quality, marine monitoring, marine hazard, ecology impact assessment and updating EIS documentation.

For more information on this, please visit the project page.

Will the long-term options increase my water bill?

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) determines Central Coast Council’s water revenues and prices during periodic reviews. 

Council’s next pricing submission is due for lodgement with IPART in September 2021 and will determine what prices Council can charge for these services from 1 July 2022 until 30 June 2026.

During March 2021, a survey was available to the community, asking for their feedback on water, sewer and stormwater prices. This feedback will feed directly into our next submission to IPART. 

Council's final submission will outline proposed service levels and prices for water, sewer and stormwater.

Current prices will not change until a new determination is made. Any changes made as a result of the new determination will come into effect from 1 July 2022.

Any impact to customer prices would be determined by IPART if and when projects proceed. 

The 'whole of life cost' of various options will be assessed as part of the Central Coast Water Security Plan. This will ensure that the infrastructure required to provide drought security and meet long-term demand for water are cost effective. Funding and cost sharing models for the preferred portfolios will be explored after the completion of the plan.

For more information on our water, sewer and stormwater submission to IPART, please visit the project page.

What is our plan to maintain water security during a severe drought? 

Our water supply system performs well in average conditions, but it is vulnerable to drought -it can't supply enough water to meet minimum customer demands in a long and severe drought (longer than any local drought in our lifetimes). The community has previously told us that this is not acceptable.

Our storages have relatively large capacities but require the assistance of our transfer pumps and pipelines to harvest the water from our rivers, as the dam storages’ natural catchment areas are relatively small. 

In a very long and severe drought (longer than any local drought in our lifetimes) that causes our water storage to fully deplete, our drought plan aims to provide an ongoing (or enduring) water supply equivalent to 100-125 litres per person, per day, for residential customers. Supply to non-residential customers will also be reduced. For comparison, our residential customers were able to restrict their usage to approximately 160 litres per person per day during the peak of the millennium drought, and our water wise target is 150 litres per person per day.

While the chance of actually needing to reduce our water usage to 100-125 litres per person per day is fairly small, the chance of needing to commence procurement of an emergency drought supply (e.g. a desalination plant) is much higher due to the time it takes to design and construct (approximately three years). Council would also rely on other sources including groundwater and surface water schemes to provide additional supply.

Council has been developing a project to implement drought response infrastructure in the form of a desalination plant on the Coast for many years. Studies since 2005 have supported the construction of a desalination plant and associated infrastructure adjacent to the existing Toukley Sewage Treatment Plant. This is our insurance policy in case of unprecedented drought conditions and our surface water storages decline to critically low levels.

Is Mangrove Creek Dam going to be expanded in the future?

Raising Mangrove Creek Dam is one of many shortlisted options being investigated under the Central Coast Water Security Plan. The plan seeks to review all feasible and effective options to address the Central Coast supply and demand balance.

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