THE mayor and a council director have defended the decision to create an emergency water supply plan only as the city's main water storage falls towards 10 per cent.
The council voted this week to create a $100,000 emergency water supply plan which would identify potential new supplies and further reductions to consumption.
With no significant inflows, Chaffey Dam could be empty by the middle of next year.
Mayor Col Murray was confident there would be enough time to find and establish new supplies, even in the worst case scenario.
"As we stand, we still have well over 12 months supply left in Chaffey Dam," he said.
"These are the sorts of actions we don't need to act on yet, we need to do the planning."
Cr Murray said all options are would be explored.
He cited groundwater, potentially accessing Keepit or Split Rock and even recycled water as possibilities.
"They may not all be pursued initially," he said.
"[Recycled water] is certainly not the panacea to solve all of our problems, it may well be part of a solution."
Water director Bruce Logan said the council's existing drought management plan was designed to manage supplies "in the repeat of the worst drought on record".
He said current conditions had gone beyond that scenario.
Mr Logan didn't agree an emergency plan should have been created sooner.
"The objective of this plan is to say if it doesn't rain and we don't get any inflow when do we think the dam will reach dead storage, what options do we have to avoid that happening," Mr Logan said.
Mr Logan said the council had engaged groundwater experts and one operator "might be able to locate significant amounts of groundwater" in the area, but it comes with some risk.
"It might be there when we first go looking for it, but it might not be there in a prolonged drought," he said.