BORE WATER could be the city's saving grace in a future drought.
The worst case scenario was close to a reality earlier this year when Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) scrambled to put together an emergency water supply plan as Chaffey Dam reached critical lows.
Part of that plan involves an investigation into fractured rock water supplies, and on Tuesday the council awarded SMEC consultants a $60,000 tender to look at possible water sources.
A trickle won't do the job, the council wants to be able to draw at least 10ML of water each day from underground, TRC water and waste director Bruce Logan said.
"It's a possible additional source of water for Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal, so the question remains on the table as to whether we could get significant water from fractured rock," he said.
"We want to confirm whether there is water available and make a decision about whether to actively pursue that.
"Council is concerned about the next drought and we want to be in a better position when it hits us.
"We want to be in a more secure situation than we are now, by finding alternate water sources to improve security."
Council is concerned about the next drought and we want to be in a better position when it hits us.Bruce Logan
Any fractured rock water sources would need to be found within five kilometres of the Calala Water Treatment Plant, or along the route of the Dungowan and Chaffey Dam pipeline.
The investigation is just the first stage of a possible six to 12 month process; first SMEC will determine what likelihood there is of finding water and then the council will have to decide whether the risk of hitting nothing is worth it.
Six companies submitted expressions of interest to investigate potential water sources, and SMEC "came out on top", Mr Logan said.
"We aren't looking for small flows, we are looking for large volumes of water and we have asked the contractor to tell us what it would cost," he said.
"It's never too early, or too late, to start looking at ways to increase the water supply.
SMEC will prepare a report on its investigations for the council.