TAMWORTH could be hit with water restrictions as early as January 8 with recent rainfall barely touching Chaffey Dam.
Tamworth Regional Council water director Bruce Logan said Chaffey was projected to hit the 40 per cent capacity trigger within the next 20 to 30 days, given the city's current level of consumption.
Mr Logan said water use had been lower than expected in the last month with the city guzzling about 20 to 25 megalitres a day.
He said the summer months usually brought an upswing in usage, but recent rainfall had curbed the trend.
He said council would aim for similar usage figures under level one restrictions.
While there’s no certainty Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal will get water use curtailed in January, it would take a dramatic turn in conditions to stave off restrictions.
“My understanding is the catchment has had significant rainfall, so it is very wet up there, but we haven't had any significant inflow,” he said.
“What we need is more rain and I'd suggest 25-50ml of rain in the catchment would be sufficient to gives us some inflow into the dam.
“Certainly five to 10 per cent would give us significant delay for when we have to introduce restrictions.”
While there's a good chance Tamworth could have restrictions imposed during the 2019 festival, Mr Logan said the associated swell in population had an insignificant impact on water use.
"The last time we looked at this we came to the conclusion increased our consumption in Tamworth by about 5-7 megalitres in a week," he said.
"When you consider that that the city is using 20-25 megalitres every day, an additional 5-7 is insignificant."
With restrictions a matter of weeks away, it could prompt more discussion about Tamworth's long-term water security.
Mr Logan said talks are ongoing about a Dungowan expansion, as well as some other options.
"The council and the government are continuing to talk about what we have to do to secure Tamworth's water supply beyond 2040, that's what we are talking about," he said.
"We have some options to look at there, we're talking to government about who is going to pay for that investigation and that includes the Dungowan upgrade and some other options too."
Under level one restrictions, people are able to use fixed sprinklers but it is limited to two hours a day, between 6pm and 8pm at night.