Watershed warning - Mayor's ultimatum: 'It's lawns or jobs'

TWO of Tamworth’s most senior councillors have issued a powerful plea to residents to put “jobs ahead of lawns”.

As the city faces the likelihood of being forced onto level one water restrictions mid-next week, Tamworth mayor Col Murray and veteran councillor Warren Woodley implored residents to lead from the front.

“We’re asking our community not to wait until restrictions kick in. We want them to undertake voluntary restrictions,” Cr Murray said.

“When you’re thinking about putting extra water on your lawn or garden, also think about the jobs your actions might impact.”

Cr Murray said the area’s three biggest water users – Cargill, Country Fresh and Baiada – employed more than 2000 people combined.

With Chaffey Dam close to its water restriction trigger point of 50 per cent, Cr Murray said another string of dry months would have dire implications.

“We’re not at panic stations yet but if we don’t get decent rain at some stage in the next six months a lot of people in Tamworth won’t be able to work,” Cr Murray said.

“That’s why we’re asking people to let some of their lawns brown off a bit.”

It comes as Walcha residents face the very real prospect of running out of water entirely within six to eight weeks.

Cr Woodley urged residents to be prepared to sacrifice a lush garden for the sake of sustainability.

“I pulled a lot of my garden out a week ago and I think people have to be realistic,” Cr Woodley said.

“What’s the point of watering plants that are getting to the end of their seasonal life?

“At times like this, we need to value our water higher and allow it to go to a higher use – like growing food and securing jobs.”

Level one water restrictions, likely to kick in by Wednesday, allow sprinklers to be used for a maximum of two hours a day.

Other water devices, like hand-held hoses, are permitted but should not be used during the heat of the day.

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