WATER restrictions are ratcheting up at a rapid rate but the council is confident its drought management plan won’t see any town supplies run dry.
Level two restrictions will be enforced in Tamworth from Monday, February 4, which means fixed sprinklers will be banned with the council ready and willing to dish out fines for non-compliance.
Level one has been in effect since January 14 and it hasn’t made any change to residential water consumption in Tamworth and the council hopes the next stage will halve consumption, which has been as high as 45 megalitres a day.
“If we can halve our consumption, then we can halve what we order out of the dam, which means whatever is left in the dam will last for twice as long,” water director Bruce Logan said.
Chaffey Dam is expected to hit 35 per cent capacity on Thursday, with Water NSW releasing about 189 megalitres per day for council and local irrigators whose allocations won’t change until July 1.
Mr Logan said the council was continuing to lobby the state government to alter local water sharing plans to ensure the city is guaranteed a greater allocation of water in the future.
“Every year the government looks at what is left in the dam, they allocate how much water does Tamworth city get, we get 100 per cent of entitlement in year one and we get 70 per cent in year two,” Mr Logan said.
“We asked for the government to change that so we got 100 per cent of our entitlement in year two which would mean we set aside more water in the dam storage, that would have a negative effect on the amount of water allocated to general security irrigators.
“The government said no to that proposal.”
Mr Logan said the council also hoped New England MP Barnaby Joyce’s request to put the $75 million set aside for a Dungowan upgrade to buy a Chaffey expansion instead would come to bear.
“From where council stands, we don’t want to lose that money,” he said.
Despite the fact water restrictions are yet to influence any change in local water usage in 2019, Mr Logan remained confident in the drought management plan and said it had become more stringent since the dry spell of 2006.
“No centre ran out of water then, we since reviewed the plan in 2015, we made some changes, in particular, we increased the level when restrictions came into effect by 10,000 megalitres,” he said.
Mr Logan said there’d be “not much benefit” to review the plan immediately, but he conceded the community consultation for the 2015 plan didn’t foster much response because water wasn’t a leading concern at the time.
“I would imagine if you ask anyone at the moment, what their number one concern in the region, water would be close to the top of the list,” he said.
“When we asked people in 2015 to comment on the plan, we didn’t get that many submissions and I would suggest that was because water was no longer considered a number one issue.
“We have to try and tap into the community at the right time in relation to these issues and that’s what we will look at doing when the drought is over.”