A SERIES of environmental releases from Chaffey Dam during one of the wettest weeks in recent memory has sparked criticism from the council and the community.
Tamworth officially recorded more than 120mm of rain in the last week, but it failed to bring any significant lift to Chaffey Dam.
The city's main water supply has remained steady at around 13.4 per cent this week.
It belied the strong flows gushing down the Peel recently as creeks and tributaries downstream of the recently installed weir revived the river in the city.
Elsewhere, Keepit Dam had a dramatic rise, surging towards 4 per cent capacity with the Namoi River springing back to life.
It was a bitter pill for the council to swallow as it tries to stretch the remaining water in Chaffey Dam for as long as possible.
On top of this, a scheduled environmental release from Chaffey was carried out this week.
Fifty-one megalitres was released on Monday alone.
Water director Bruce Logan said the standard release was swollen with a council order which was surplus to city needs.
"There was 36 megalitres for Tamworth's supply and 15 for the environmental release," he said.
"Our consumption is pretty low at the moment and 36 megalitres was probably over and above what we needed to release.
"So we need to work more closely with Water NSW and make sure their releases match our demand as much as possible."
Mr Logan, however, said the environmental releases should be put on hold.
"Whether the environmental release was necessary given the rain we've had, that's a question we need to ask Water NSW and the environmental agencies," he said.
"There was a requirement that 30 megalitres had to be released from Chaffey as an environmental release to offset some of the effects of that weir going in.
"My concern is 30 megalitres a week isn't really addressing the environmental concerns downstream of the weir because it doesn't go very far."
It appears there's no scope for flexibility in the environmental conditions.
Mr Logan said the rigid measures highlighted a flaw in current water sharing plans which have been a bugbear for the council.
"From my perspective, this is one of the things the water sharing plan and other plans put in place, in relation to this, need to consider," he said.
"Is there a better way to achieve the outcome."
In a written statement, a Water NSW spokesperson said the releases were part of conditions required to disrupt the Peel River flow at Dungowan with a water-conserving weir.
"This requirement is being achieved via an increase of 15 megalitres per day every 4-5 days for a period of 24 hours," he said.
"The intent is to push a small volume of water past the structure at Dungowan to provide periodic replenishment for the riverine habitat downstream."