COUNCILLORS had a heated debate about the need to investigate turning sewage into drinking water.
Mark Rodda floated the idea at this week's Tamworth Regional Council meeting and was met with some criticism.
He asked staff to look into the viability and cost of turning the city's wastewater into a purified drinking supply.
Eventually, the request was watered down and will see staff rehash a 2015 Hunter H20 report into 18 Tamworth augmentation options and whether any technology had emerged since then.
Water director Bruce Logan said the 2015 report did look at "direct potable reuse" of wastewater and said it would cost about $133 million.
He said it was still a "controversial", expensive option and highlighted how Toowoomba's council had backed down on a recent move towards indirect potable reuse.
"There are a number of cities who are doing indirect potable reuse and Perth is one of those," Mr Logan said.
"They actually do aquifer recharge, where they inject the recycled effluent into a groundwater aquifer at one location and then they pull that water out of the same aquifer some 20-40km away from where they inject it.
"So the aquifer is actually shandy-ing up that water and it is actually, in effect, no different to normal groundwater at the time they pull it out."
Glenn Inglis said there was no urban supply in Australia which had direct potable reuse and said it would cost upwards of $250,000 for a serious investigation into a recycled water scheme.
"There is not a place in Australia that does it, there's a reason for that which we won't go into tonight," he said.
Russell Webb questioned Cr Rodda's suggestion and doubted whether the city would be genuinely keen on the idea.
Cr Rodda said a desperate circumstance would potentially call for a desperate measure.
"I realise it is a bit of psychological hurdle to overcome," he said.
"But if Chaffey Dam continues to fall, if we don't get the rains and Dungowan Dam starts to deplete, what do we do then.
"We can truck the water in or freight it in on trains, but what would we do then."