WATER carters have hit back at "misguided" Manilla residents, saying the vast majority of water from the town's bulk station is going to desperate farmers.
Tensions have remained high in the town since a group blockaded the station, protesting against its use to "top up pools in Tamworth".
Water carter David Harris said he'd been abused while filling up, even though the load was destined for a rural property.
"I've had fingers stuck up at me, abuse hurled as people drive past, horns blasted," Mr Harris said.
"What they've done has inconvenienced people surrounding the local community who are in desperate need for water.
"It's hampered us. In the first couple of days, we had to tell people we couldn't get them water.
"They said they were letting people through, but it was like Dodge City - they were judge, jury and executor, and many didn't care what you had to say."
Mr Harris said the majority of people taking water to top up pools were residents, not water carters: topping up a pool in Tamworth with water from Manilla was a "four- to five-hour job", and often the juice wasn't worth the squeeze for water carters.
"In that same time, we could do four or five rural properties," he said.
"The percentage of water carters filling up pools is very low. We prefer to do tanks."
Fellow carter Rowan Ross said he'd "hardly filled up any pools".
"I think it's a misconception that there are lots being filled up," he said.
"We're farmers ourselves and we're carting to farmers who have livestock that need water.
"I do a lot of domestic runs and, to be perfectly honest, most of the pools I see are empty or look disgusting because they've let them go."
Both Mr Harris and Mr Ross said that, instead of blocking water carters, the angry residents should address the council.
"I have sympathies with what they're doing, but council set up the guidelines and we are just following them," Mr Harris said.
"We're playing by the rules council has set. We're trying to do the right thing and, if we don't follow the procedure, we get in trouble," Mr Ross said.
"If we get a call for water, we ask where they are, if they're connected to town water and what the water will be used for. That information guides us to what stations we can use."
Manilla residents have penned letters to the council, asking it to restrict access to the town's bulk filling station.
Councillors will meet for a water workshop on Tuesday, when they will discuss the issue.