WATER - the topic is just as complex as the commodity is in demand.
The Leader and Tamworth Regional Council often encounter the same misconceptions about how our water is used and managed.
Here are some of the most common questions the Leader has received recently regarding water, with some information to debunk the myths.
Why has Council released so much water from Chaffey Dam?
Chaffey Dam is owned by the NSW government and operated by WaterNSW.
Tamworth Regional Council is just one of many customers served by WaterNSW and Chaffey Dam, alongside farmers, irrigators and other water-using businesses such as abattoirs and food processors. The council holds a high-security licence, meaning it must order water from the yearly allocation for Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal; this comes about every financial year.
WaterNSW is responsible for the releases of water from Chaffey Dam and ensuring that allocations by customers are not exceeded.
Why didn't Council introduce restrictions in Tamworth earlier?
All water restrictions are implemented following the council's drought management plan.
This plan identifies triggers for higher levels of water restrictions based on the level of Chaffey Dam, and was endorsed by the council after public consultation in 2015.
Since the increase in the dam's capacity due to its upgrade, the trigger for water restrictions in Tamworth/Moonbi/Kootingal is 10,000 megalitres higher than before.
Also, any water that is not used by the council goes into the mix for allocation to other Chaffey Dam customers. So, introducing restrictions when the storage in Chaffey Dam is higher will have an adverse effect on council residents, and may not result in more water stored in the dam for the future use by those same consumers.
The plan will be reviewed and placed on public exhibition again after the end of the current drought.
Why is council watering sporting fields and parks, and what water source is it using?
All sporting fields are watered using only bore/ground water.
There is currently no intention to augment town water supplies with the bore water being used to maintain the council greenspaces.
A council spokesperson pointed to studies that have proven the availability of greenspaces during dry times are extremely beneficial for both physical and mental health.
"Remediation of heavily worn areas was required following overuse of some greenspaces during winter. Aeration, re-seeding and fertilising, used as part of this remediation, require regular watering, sometimes during daylight hours, to ensure maximum effectiveness," the TRC spokesperson said.
"Due to the lack of rain some greenspaces require additional chemical applications or soil and plant nutrition. Some of these applications require immediate watering, hence additional watering is occasionally required during daylight hours.
"Turf cricket wickets require extensive rolling in order to remain suitable for competition. Wicket preparation requires daily watering, rolling, etc and this can only be done during daylight hours just before rolling commences."
The fields provide an economic stimulus by bringing sporting carnivals to town.
The council has a groundwater licence to use the water extracted from the bores in use, and is closely monitoring usage to ensure the licence limit is not exceeded.
How much water does the Tamworth Country Music Festival use? Wouldn't an extra 50,000 drain our supply?
On average, the Tamworth Country Music Festival uses an additional 5 megalitres over the duration of 10 days of the festival.
This is the equivalent of one-third or one-fourth of a day's worth of water, depending on if the city is meeting its level 5 water restriction targets.
A council spokesperson said the reason there was such minimal additional use boiled down to the fact that TCMF fans didn't take part in high-water-use activities.
"Visitors don't bring a garden, so they aren't watering it," the spokesperson said.
"Also these people are out at venues enjoying entertainment and food [so] they aren't cranking up their evaporative airconditioner inside.
"And they are normally speeding through the shower/bathroom as they are getting ready to head out and enjoy more of the festival."
Why does council let builders and road workers use water for dust suppression on roads/construction sites?
Dust is a pollutant as identified under the state government's Protection of the Environment Operation Act.
Crews are legally obligated to control the dust their construction kicks up, and the use of water is one way to manage this pollutant in an environmentally friendly way.
Many construction crews have begun opting not to work on particular sites during windy days, rather than using water to control the dust.
By the end of January, there will be a new raw water filling station located in Marius Street, Tamworth; all contractors will be able to source their water from this groundwater bulk filling station.
Without any rain, how long is Chaffey Dam expected to supply Tamworth?
Modelling from WaterNSW shows that with the additional infrastructure - including a temporary weir and a permanent pipeline - completed and operating by end of March 2020, and no inflows into Chaffey Dam, it will reach 0 per cent in mid-2021.