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Planning for the future

Harbour and Hinterland

Council is constantly reviewing future water supply needs and available resources; a detailed 30-year capital works program has been developed to meet anticipated water supply needs.

All of these investigations and planning activities involve the basic concepts of both the affordable and sustainable development of our natural resources. A number of the proposals currently being investigated include:

  • Additional off- creek dam storage capacity (potential to raise existing dam walls),
  • Water sensitive and efficient urban design,
  • River water storage and treatment, alternative sources of water to supply our off-creek storages, and
  • Feasibility of reclaimed Water reuse schemes in urban areas.

The Secure Yield concept

When designing our biggest assets and planning for the future, Council's water supply team must take into consideration the impacts of drawing water on the Hastings River and natural environment.  This is called the 'secure yield'.

The secure yield is the long-term annual water demand that can be safely supplied to consumers. It takes into consideration the capacity of the river, the capacity of transfer pipelines and storages to safely meet water demands without adversely impacting on the environment.

For example, in 2016/17 the Port Macquarie-Hastings region had a total water consumption of approximately 5,658 megalitres per annum.  As long as our system has a yield above that figure, we can continue to supply water according to the current demand, throughout the good and bad years.

Planning for an uncertain future

As the population increases, we must also increase the secure yield of the water supply system.   

The four areas of primary focus in future water supply planning include:

  • Estimating population growth
  • Predicting per capita water demand
  • Potential climate change impacts; and
  • Water system planning options.

Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy

Every eight years Council reviews our impact on the natural water cycle by developing an Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) Strategy.

The IWCM Strategy provides Council with an opportunity to take stock of its water cycle management efforts so far, and plan what needs to be done into the future.

It is carried out in two stages:

  • Stage 1 includes a review of Council’s existing water supply, wastewater (sewerage) and stormwater systems and strategies for the future, noting any gaps. This information is compiled in the IWCM Issues Paper; and
  • Stage 2 is the final IWCM Strategy where a range of options are considered to address the identified issues, along with fine-tuning of existing strategies.  These outcomes are combined into the final IWCM Strategy document which will be recommended to Council for adoption in late 2017.

The following video link summarises Stage 1 of the project.

Port Macquarie-Hastings water supply map 

 Map of PMHC Water Supply 2016
Click to view a map of the Hastings Water Supply452KB jpg
(JPG, 452KB) (2016)

Climate change

Council will use the following key assumptions for their long term water supply planning, and look at various different options or scenarios. 

By 2050:

  • Temperatures are expected to rise by 1.5 degrees
  • Rainfall is expected to reduce by 3.5% pa with significant seasonal changes
  • Evaporation is expected to increase by 6% pa
  • Annual streamflows are expected to reduce by 10.8% pa but will be affected by seasonal differences
  • Annual water demands are expected to increase by 4.3% pa (mostly in Spring).

Changes in river flows - residential water demands are expected to increase by 4.3% pa while streamflows are predicted to drop by more than 10% pa.  In a drought event both predicted changes are likely to coincide, making the impacts on water supply and the environment potentially a lot worse.

Water system planning so far

The Port Macquarie-Hastings region is in the fortunate position to have two water storage dams:

  • Port Macquarie Off-Creek Storage Dam (our working dam) has a current capacity of 2500 megalitres
  • Cowarra Off-Creek Storage Dam (a 'back-up' storage facility) has a capacity of 10,000 megalitres.

For the period 2016/17, the Port Macquarie-Hastings population has a current annual water consumption of 5,658 megalitres per annum.

This page was last updated on: 03 August 2017