More than 120,000 water bottles have been saved from landfill over the past two years thanks to water stations at key locations across Lake Macquarie.
Lake Macquarie City Council partnered with Hunter Water in 2020 to install the stations at five high-traffic spots. Daniel Hartin, Council’s Co-ordinator Asset Optimisation, says those five stations have supplied more than 72,000 litres of drinking water to users in the two years since.
“That’s the equivalent of more than 120,000 plastic bottles’ worth of water,” he says. “Simple initiatives like this play an important role in reducing single-use plastics, as well as reinforcing the ‘Love Water’ messaging that helped get us through the most recent drought.”
Laid end-to-end, those bottles would stretch 17 kilometres.
Daniel says the water stations form part of a broader council focus on the circular economy and waste reduction strategies.
“A lot of that is based around soft plastics,” he says, “and being able to not have plastics littering the area. Our community tells us that what they love about the area is Lake Macquarie and the lake surrounds. Reducing the amount of water bottles that need to be sold, and having people bring their own, is a great win for water conservation and the waste reduction strategy.”
Lake Macquarie City Council was one of the first councils in the Hunter region of New South Wales to adopt food organic, garden organic (FOGO) collection bins. The program has been running successfully for several years and is now producing organic compost used in local landscaping supply and horticulture.
The council also has plans for several community recycling centres. For now, Daniel says, plans are underway to roll out more water stations, each of which features a water bottle refill tap and a dog water bowl.
“We’re seeking input from the community about where those new stations could go,” he says. “The idea is to target busy locations where people are outdoors exercising and need to rehydrate.”
Laura Hails, Hunter Water Executive Manager says Hunter Water is proud to partner with council on this initiative.
“These water stations are helping our community make smart water choices every day,” she says. “Water is fundamental to life and by managing this precious resource sustainably, we can ensure the health and wellbeing of our community and environment.”
The initiative has further strengthened the ongoing collaboration between Hunter Water and the council on water conservation.
In 2022, the two organisations launched a joint project to irrigate sports grounds at Edgeworth and Cameron Park with 20 megalitres of recycled water – enough to fill eight Olympic-sized swimming pools.
“This investment will ensure the playing fields can be used year-round and helps improve the resilience of beautiful assets that are important to the community,” Laura says.
Edgeworth Sporting Complex includes several ovals while Cameron Park has a large multi-purpose oval, playground, netball courts and BMX track.
Daniel says irrigation work is complete and the council is hopeful recycled water from the Edgeworth Wastewater Treatment Plant can be used at the complexes within the next 12 months.
“Sporting fields are council’s largest water consuming asset,” he says.
“Any opportunity we have to increase the use of recycled water and not potable water is a win for the community.”
The council is looking to extend the project to other sports grounds and is looking at other efficiencies including integrated weather stations and central irrigation control systems, to control when the areas are watered.