A SOLUTION to the poultry industry's water woes could still be "a couple of months" away, the Tamworth mayor says.
Five farms that supply the bulk of Baiada's chickens will lose access to their water entitlements when the Peel River runs dry from a weir installed near Dungowan, to converse the remaining water in Chaffey Dam for Tamworth.
Council proposed diverting treated wastewater down the Peel to keep the poultry farms afloat. However, the recycled water is already contracted to a local farmer, and council will have to fork out a large compensation package to break the contract.
Mayor Col Murray said council was still negotiating with the farmer.
"We're working with the operators of the effluent reuse farm as we speak," he said.
"Those discussions are ongoing and probably won't be resolved inside the next couple of months.
"This is one of the unusual factors [in cutting the Peel]. We've never experience the river being dry and how we might support those large high-security users downstream, and particularly the poultry industry."
There are fears that without a secure long-term supply of water, the chicken farms and Baiada's processing plants will have to drastically reduce their production or shut down.
Three of the farms, owned by ProTen, recently built large dams on each of the properties, which the company hopes will see it through the summer.
Groundwater is being investigated, however the state government is struggling to process a backlog of bore applications.
Tamworth council has also been working with the NSW government to come up with a solution. A total of $15 million has been put aside to fund water carting activities across the state.