PATROLS are back on the streets because residents have been busted breaking water restriction rules.
The town water supply at Chaffey Dam has only just hit 14 per cent but in the blur of the COVID-19 pandemic it seems the water situation for Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal slipped off the radar for some.
Tamworth Regional Council has received up to five reports of inappropriate water use a day, water sustainability coordinator Tracey Carr said.
"With the rain people's lawns are growing, we had to get back into lawn maintenance and in normal, good supply times you would hose the driveway and the mower," she said.
"The fact that is has been raining, things look green and we've promoted the easing of restrictions in other towns could be why, but the fact is Tamworth remains on Level 5 water restrictions.
"We're getting back up to between four and five reports a day coming through."
A $220 on-the-spot fine or warning awaits anyone caught breaking the rules.
Repeat offenders face council installment of a flow-restrictor, that stops the sprinkler working altogether.
There is at least one patrol each day and two on weekends, with compliance officers staggering times so it doesn't become predictable.
The patrols are covered with a monthly budget of $5000 and will carry through until the end of June.
From July, councillors will review the budget to see if patrols need to continue.
Ms Carr said there was some concern that the water conservation message had been lost with COVID-19 advertisements and information taking up a lot of people's attention.
"It doesn't mean we have eased up at all," she said.
"We are planning for if Chaffey Dam reaches 10 per cent, which is a trigger to up the look and feel of our messaging to something more serious.
"That 10 per cent will be where use is at 100L per person, per day for residential water use, we hope we don't have to use that material but we are making sure it's in place."
With good rainfall across the region, water restrictions have eased in some areas like Attunga that has been downgraded from Level 2 to permanent water conservation methods.
Chaffey Dam has not received the inflows needed to have a significant impact on the volume of water.
The general feedback patrol officers had received was that the breaches of water restrictions were not deliberate.