BENDEMEER might be running dry but householders are still using nearly twice as much water a day than the regional council wants them to.
The village last weekend was hit with the most drastic water bans the Tamworth Regional Council has seen since about 2007.
They cannot use any hoses at all, and while they are allowed to use buckets to water, the council on Wednesday took the extraordinary step of asking them not to.
And yesterday they said they’d start water patrols to enforce the restrictions – they want the village to reduce its consumption from the 130-kilolitre highs it’s registered all week to about 80kilolitres.
On Thursday the village used 110kilolitres and council water director Bruce Logan says he thinks they’re heeding the call now – but the outlook for them is dire if they don’t stop some of that watering.
Bendemeer is at the point of running out of water; in fact the Macdonald River, where the council takes the water from an inlet pipe just near the village bridge that eventually sees its way into 145 village user connections, has stopped flowing.
Former carrier and publican Ken Brett says he can only remember that happening once before in his lifetime and he’s lived in Bendy for 57 years.
He can remember 1982 or 1983 being this bad.
“It was exactly the same then as it is now. We were in the hotel and I looked across to the Anzac gates and there was no water at all. That’s the only time I’ve seen that, but I noticed on Sunday morning that it had stopped running. This is worse now than then,” Mr Brett said.
“It’s a long way from the worst one. I had the carrying business then and it was 1965 to 1967, that’s the worst one I’ve seen. I was driving ’round the clock delivering hay, feed and water.”
The Bretts count themselves luckier than most though. They’ve used a backyard bore to water their vegie patch up until now.
The council has contingencies in place for Bendemeer if itsriver water point runs dry too – but they’re extreme, emergency measures, ranging from digging out the river pool deeper to get to more water, putting in an emergency bore, or even trucking it in from Moonbi.
While the Bendy water woes are worse than anywhere else in the council area, the signs are ominous – there are dark clouds overhead and they’re not bringing rain.
As Tamworth chalked up a January that is the driest on record – and that’s at least 115 years – tougher water bans look likely in quite a few more places.
Tamworth registered just 0.2mm last month – the next lowest rain reading for a January was back in 1942 at 2.33mm for the month.
There’s been no decent rainfall since Christmas Day when Tamworth had 17mm, but we’ve now gone 37 days without rain, coupled with a series of extreme temperature highs.
The next five days are expected to be above 35 degrees, with today likely to reach 39 degrees.
Mr Logan accepts that the extreme heat will add to the high readings but using more of it faster will bring on tighter bans for Tamworth.
We’re likely to see restrictions before the middle of this month. Our consumption has been an average of 46 megalitres a day – the equivalent of 35 times the capacity of the Tamworth City Olympic pool.