Mayoral Update

Mayor Tracy Norman

Hunter Water Corporation (HWC) Customer Community Advisory Group (CCAG) Meeting
The HWC CCAG meeting was held at Wyee, where we were updated on the Wyee’s sewage works. We also heard from the new Chief Executive Officer, Mr Graham Wood, who gave us a brief overview of his previous experience in the water supply industry before running through the corporate scorecard of HWC’s performance for the last year. Many of HWC’s targets were exceeded or at least improving. While there were improvements made in leak detections and reduction of water consumption, the targets fell a long way short and achieving industry best practice is still a work in progress.

Water Resilience Program Director, Emma Berry, updated us on HWC’s strategies to deal with drought and on the review of the Lower Hunter Water Plan, as well as its strategies to incorporate the Greater Hunter Regional Water Plan into its planning process.

With the Bureau of Meteorology predicting the next 3 months to be dryer and warmer than usual, and Chichester Dam receiving 40% of normal flows at present, HWC is likely to introduce Level 1 water restrictions by mid-September, with Level 2 planned for around December if there is not significant rainfall by then. HWC is working on a number of strategies to deal with the on-going drought. It is working with its largest customers on water efficiency audits and plans and it is ramping up water conservation works. HWC is also working with local councils to realise water recycling opportunities and undertake audits on water use and identify where usage could be decreased.
 
Emma’s presentation also included some interesting research being undertaken by HWC on groundwater sources.

For information on how you can conserve water and to find out about HWC’s Water Wise Rules, please see www.hunterwater.com.au.

The Future of Farming in Dungog Shire
Council’s Agriculture Portfolio Group, comprising of the Deputy Mayor Cr Digby Rayward, Cr Greg Riley and myself, along with Council’s General Manager (GM), Strategic Planner, Em Tischner and Manager Business Strategy and Investment, Jakob Gray, met with representatives from Tocal College, Local Land Services and some leading local agriculturists to discuss barriers and opportunities for agriculture in the Shire over the next 20 years.

This was the first step in the lead up to the Portfolio Group engaging with the broader farming community regarding this very important topic. There was great input from all in the room, with some innovative ideas flowing. We are now planning our agricultural forum, where we want to hear from our farmers and to share some thinking with them on topics such as diversifying on-farm income streams, co-operative enterprises and the benefits of value adding.

Hunter Mayors
I played host to the Mayors of Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, Maitland and Singleton at the Tin Shed Brewery last week. We have a quarterly informal get together in each other’s Local Government Areas where we catch each other up on all things Local Government in the Hunter. The strength of the connection of the Hunter Councils is vital for all of us, but probably more so for Dungog because our voice goes from 9000 people strong to 720,000 people strong.
 
Connecting to Country
This week I will be attending this 3-day educational program run by the Department of Education in association with the Worimi Land Council. I have had several members of the community interested in finding out about and attending this program. I will ask about criteria for attendance at these programs while I’m there and report back to you.

Youth Drought Summit
UNICEF, in association with the NSW Government is calling for 14 to 24 year-olds, who have experience or knowledge about the effects of living with drought, to attend the NSW Youth Summit on Living with Drought in October. All costs associated with attendance, including transport, accommodation and food, will be covered by UNICEF and the NSW Government. Applications close on 30 August and can be made at www.unicef.org.au/drought summit.

The summit will take place from Wednesday 9 to Friday 11 October at Point Wolstoncroft Sports and Recreation Centre, Lake Macquarie. It is a wonderful opportunity to help shape policy thinking around response to drought. Think about nominating!

Ordinary Meeting of Council
The next meeting is this Wednesday (21 August), starting at 6pm. There is a very full agenda, including several planning matters, policy updates, the six-monthly report on Council’s Delivery Program and report on the Dowling St road rehabilitation project and Dungog Township Revitilisation Plan. As always, I encourage you to come along to witness democracy in action.

Communications from Council
Council is committed to communicating openly and effectively with residents and ratepayers of our Shire. We will be working on a number of key initiatives over the next 12 months to improve our communication with the community to ensure you are properly informed and consulted on the issues and decisions that matter to you. As part of the Dungog Shire community, we’re keen to understand how you’d like us to communicate with you and what we can do better to ensure that you are properly informed and consulted on the issues and decisions that matter to you. We are inviting all Dungog Shire residents to complete a communications survey to provide feedback and suggestions on how we can improve information sharing, communication and consultation with our community.

To have your say, please complete the online survey below.  We will be taking feedback via this survey up until Friday, 30 August 2019, please see the following to access the survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DungogShireCouncil

Dungog Tea Party
The wait is finally over. The inaugural Dungog Tea Party opens this Tuesday. There has been an overwhelming response to this so expect the streets of Dungog to be filled with tea cosy fanciers for the next week. Bus loads are expected on each day and there are more than 200 entries in the tea cosy competition. Good luck to the organisers for this colourful addition to the Dungog events calendar.

Mobile Office
I will be conducting my Mobile Office next Saturday 24 August, outside of the Vacy School of Arts. I’ll be there between 9 am and noon.

The following Saturday, 31 August, I’ll be at the Clarence Town Community Markets from 8 am to noon. These are held at carpark of the Clarence Town Bowling Club.

Regards Tracy Norman

Dungog Shire Mayor

19 August 2019