FARMERS will continue to have access to free bulk water until Tamworth hits level four water restrictions.
Given the severity of the drought, Tamworth Regional Council councillors felt it was too soon to cut off free water.
"We're in uncharted territory," Cr Phil Betts said.
"This will give us some comfort that we are supporting those areas that are really in dire straights.
"I've spent time talking to people accessing this and they can barely afford other basic supplies."
But, the free water won't be provided without conditions.
Reports of public misuse angered both councillors and water carters, who have made complaints to the council.
Now, farmers will need to prove they are property owners before being issued an ID card with a $50 refundable bond that allows them to access the free water.
Community members connected to the reticulated supply won't be given a card and farmers can only collect three kilolitres a week.
Free water will be cut off at either level four water restrictions or when half of the Tamworth region is declared no longer in drought.
Disappointed to hear that people who didn't need the water had been using it, Cr Juanita Wilson wanted more checks and balances on the process.
"People behaved in ways we didn’t expect," she said.
"It’s very difficult to instruct people how to use their vehicles and the issues raised in terms of the way water carters use and approach the facilities is something we could look at."
Council has received reports those who access the service leave with overloaded vehicles, and awareness needed to be raised on the issue, water and waste director Bruce Logan said.
"We might all be back here shortly to see whether it's appropriate to continue to offer free water," he said.
"But people need to know that 1000 litres weighs a tonne, so if you take that in your vehicle it will weigh a tonne."
Council voted on Tuesday to install seven new monitored refill stations in April.