There are growing calls for environmental releases from Chaffey Dam to be stopped as the dam continues to drop despite recent rainfall, but the water agency charged with conducting the releases says they must continue.
The dam, which is Tamworth's main water supply, is hovering at 14.1 per cent - a figure which has barely changed in the past months despite more than 30 mm of rain falling in the catchment in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, Tamworth council and local MP Kevin Anderson again criticised environmental releases from the dam, which continues to fall in the ongoing drought.
Water NSW has again defended the releases, saying they must operate under rules set by the state government.
"Normally these rules are outlined in the Peel Valley Water Sharing Plan, however, as part of the construction of the temporary weir, additional planning conditions were placed on Water NSW as part of the planning approval process," the spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, Water NSW said the hotly contested releases are required under the planning approval conditions for the Dungowan weir, which was installed late last year.
A spokesperson from Water NSW told the Leader the weir was installed to maximise the water supply for Tamworth but Water NSW is required to release environmental water from the dam.
"As part of the planning approval conditions for the temporary weir at Dungowan - which has extended supply for Tamworth by 12 months - Water NSW is required to release environmental water from Chaffey Dam," the spokesperson said.
Under this arrangement, Water NSW said 30 megalitres of water per week must be released down the Peel River.
Despite the conditions for environmental releases, Water NSW said the weir has helped slow the reduction in water capacity at Chaffey Dam.
The Leader reached out to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for comment but it did not respond on Wednesday.
Mr Anderson said he's calling for the water sharing plan to be re-worked and made more flexible, depending on the conditions.
"I want the water sharing plan to be changed to better reflect the emergency circumstances we find ourselves in," he said on Wednesday.
"We're still in Level 5 water restrictions here in Tamworth despite the good rain we have been having and some promising rain falling up around the catchment of Chaffey Dam."
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said stopping the releases when the dam reached 10 per cent capacity was not acceptable.
"Council has a very clear position that we would like to see those flows stop now, not wait until the dam gets down to 10 per cent.
There would be a percentage number somewhere which I think could be acceptable to the broader community, I don't think the status quo is acceptable to our community," he said.