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The Department of Planning and Environment is seeking feedback from water users and other key stakeholders on new draft water sharing plans for the Hunter, Coffs Harbour and Lower North Coast regions.

Executive Director of Water Planning, Giselle Howard, said water sharing plans are valid for ten years once finalised, so it’s important the local community and stakeholders are informed and provide feedback while the plan is in draft form.

Hunter Unregulated and Alluvial Water Sharing Plan 

Ms Howard said the 2018-2020 drought in the Hunter Valley highlighted the importance of managing our water resources and sharing them equitably during dry times

“The draft plan aims to manage water in sustainable ways including reducing access to water during future dry periods, when salinity levels in tidal zones can reach critical levels and groundwater levels become very low,” Ms Howard said.

“Other proposed rules will help to improve environmental releases from Chichester Dam.”

To read the draft water sharing plan visit: dpie.nsw.gov.au/hunter-valley-wsp

Coffs Harbour Area Water Sharing Plan 

“The natural beauty of Coffs Harbour and the nearby Solitary Islands Marine Park are reliant on freshwater inflows so it’s vital we manage and share our water resources in an equitable way,” Ms Howard said.

“There’s extreme pressure on water resources in the Coffs Harbour Area with local industries and a growing population relying on a finite amount of water.”

To read the draft water sharing plan visit: dpie.nsw.gov.au/coffs-harbour-wsp

Lower North Coast water sharing plan 

Ms Howard said, “During the drought extreme pressure was put on the environment, water users and local water utilities as the Manning River and many tributaries ran dry.

“The challenges of the last drought are at the heart of the draft water sharing plan which has been adjusted to ensure continued access to water across the Lower North Coast even during dry periods.”

The draft Lower North Coast water sharing plan is available on: dpie.nsw.gov.au/lower-north-coast-wsp

Ms Howard said the department was keen to hear from a variety of stakeholders to ensure the new water sharing plans balance the needs of commercial water users, the community and the environment.

People have until Sunday 27 February 2022 to make their submission on the draft plans.

“This process allows us to find and address any concerns about the proposed water sharing plan,” Ms Howard said.

“We want to hear diverse perspectives on the draft water sharing plan and its socio- economic, cultural and environmental effects.”

All feedback will be considered before the final water sharing plans come into effect in July 2022.

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