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Water management

We understand the important role of water in our local environment and how we can use this resource sustainably.

Port Waratah operates adjacent to and over Newcastle Harbour. We have a deep understanding of the importance of caring for the Hunter River and managing potential impacts from our operations. Our water management systems are engineered and strictly maintained to secure a reliable source of operational water and to minimise potential impact to our local environment.  

The efficient use of water is a key component of responsible day-to-day management of our operations, and we invest in environmental improvement projects to reduce potable water consumption and enable the capture and reuse of water on-site. We are committed to playing our part in improving the sustainable use of our shared water resources in the Hunter.

Holistic approach to responsible water management

Our systems are managed using a Site Water Balance Model, providing a careful balance of harvesting water for operational use and ensuring maintained storage capacity in anticipation of storm events. We do this to ensure compliance with statutory requirements while using water sustainably.

We capture stormwater (rainfall) and recirculated site water to reuse for dust suppression, machine wash downs, firefighting systems, housekeeping and irrigation. Our terminals each have a complex water management system consisting of drains, sumps, launders and pipes to recapture and transport water to our tanks or ponds for storage and settling before further reuse across our sites. 

We operate a Site Water Balance Model at each terminal that enables us to predict how our water management systems will respond to forecast rainfall events, as well enabling us to proactively manage maintenance within our water systems all year-round. 

Potable water, purchased from Hunter Water, is reserved for use in amenities and to top-up supplies when there is insufficient water available onsite. Click here  to find out more about our strategies to reduce potable water consumption.

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Preserving the Hunter River

Preserving the quality of the Hunter River is integral to our water management programme.

The Hunter River estuary extends 64km inland from the Port of Newcastle and covers an area of 22,000km2. Although we undertake extensive planning measures, there are rainfall events, or prolonged periods of wet weather  that may exceed our site’s water storage capacity. In this event, excess water is released into the Hunter River via our licensed discharge points, specified in our  Environment Protection Licences.

Improvement in Water Management

In recent years we have implemented several improvement projects to mitigate potential risks associated with wet weather overflows. Quality and volume discharges are recorded in accordance with our Environment Protection Licence requirements and published in our Environmental Monitoring Data for each terminal. We have also installed and commissioned: 

  • A Control Discharge Filtration System (CDFS) at our Carrington Terminal – which filters water captured on-site, removing solids to improve water quality before clarified water is recirculated for site reuse or discharged as per our licence.
  • Construction of two stormwater tanks at our Carrington Terminal – providing an additional 13 megalitres of water storage capacity to capture stormwater during rain events. A third tank, due to be commissioned in 2022 will increase this capacity to 21 megalitres.