Photo: Lusatia, Germany – Completed coal mine rehabilitation

Lakes of possibility: From scarred landscape to water security, environmental renewal and economic prosperity

Mining has long offered an economic lifeblood for many regions in Australia. Entire communities owe their prosperity to local mines, where generations of families have toiled at the coalface. But once the machines grow quiet and the miners move on, the indelible marks on the landscape remain and enormous voids are left where the miners once worked.

Lusatia and The Ruhr lakes districts in Germany offer inspiration for an exciting new future for the Hunter Region of New South Wales: the creation of artificial lakes to dramatically transform the physical landscape and secure the water supply through the localised storage of enormous amounts of water to sustain existing agriculture and urban water supplies.

The new industries of renewable energy, forestry, aquaculture and tourism will be created boosting the local and wider economies.

The issue

The Hunter region is proud of its mining history – and rightly so. The resources extracted at these sites have made an important contribution to the local and national economy, and helped to power our nation. But after years of this mining activity, the region’s landscape bears the inevitable impacts of a generation of mining activity.

The remaining empty mine voids can be repurposed to provide a dramatically improved environment for the benefit of future generations. In particular, these voids can be utilised for water storage on a significant scale, providing water security for the Hunter Region as well as the Central Coast, Northern and Inner West Regions. The Hunter region’s water storage levels at the start of 2020 were the lowest they had been since 1981. (Hunter Water)

South-eastern Australia has endured eight severe droughts since 1860

The solution 

The Hunter Lakes Corporation has a bold vision for the Hunter region of NSW. Inspired by the incredible success of Lusatia and The Ruhr lakes districts in Germany, the Hunter Lakes Corporation seeks to develop a similar network of artificial lakes stretching from Muswellbrook to Broke (south west of Singleton). This network will address the unfinished industrial legacy of mining, by restoring and improving the local environment, generating local jobs and boosting the local economy.


Beyond the vastly improved environmental outcomes, The Hunter Lakes Scheme offers additional benefits for the local community and beyond:

Beyond its obvious environmental and aesthetic benefits, The Hunter Lakes Scheme offers tangible economic rewards for the people of the Hunter region. In particular, it will generate significant numbers of construction jobs, as well as ongoing positions in management and small business opportunities in the tourism sector.