A deep conviction of the importance of environmental stewardship lies at the heart of all we do at the Hunter Lakes Corporation.
Our vision is to take something confronting, and turn it into something beautiful, environmentally functional and supportive of the local community. It’s a big vision, but the German experience provides a roadmap and proves that it’s possible.
Another outcome of the German project is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Upper Lausitz Heath and Pond Landscape, an extraordinary ecosystem that continues to play a pivotal role in the protection of hundreds of endangered plant and animal species. This dynamic environment is a stunning reminder of what can be achieved by inspired and well-managed environmental stewardship.
Water is an essential resource, and the Hunter Lakes Scheme seeks to secure water access across the region. High evaporation rates and shallow storage areas make the Hunter region particularly susceptible to water shortages. In 1981 water levels reached as low as 30.1%, and more recently reached 53.1% in February 2020. The Hunter Lakes Scheme will provide critical additional water storage for the region, ensuring continued access to this precious commodity for households, agriculture and commercial uses.
Of course, no environmental project is without its challenges, and the scoping study has already identified areas that require special attention. In particular, proper management of salinity and water quality will be essential, as well as careful planning surrounding the interaction between the lakes and the Hunter River system. The German context gives us the tools to successfully manage these challenges.
The Lakes Corporation has identified key issues for immediate assessment including the balance of rainfall and evaporation, contamination and salinity, and interaction with the water table. Importantly, a major feature of the scheme will be its ability to augment required flows in the Hunter River. A proof of concept study is well underway.
A scoping study is underway to investigate the viability of the scheme, with a particular focus on salinity, leaching and contamination issues. At every step along the way, all tiers of government are being consulted, along with the wider community.