TAMWORTH cannot stockpile water saved up by savvy locals for a "dry day" by simply changing the way we float up and down the water restrictions scale, according to Tamworth's water boss.
Tamworth Regional Council water and waste director Bruce Logan called a meeting with the press on Monday to bust the myth that being on tighter water rules for longer periods would ease the city's water woes.
He explained Chaffey Dam - which is Tamworth's main water supply - is a melting pot of water dedicated for town users, the environment, the state government, and other license holders.
"My concern is that people believe that putting Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal on tighter water restrictions all the time will lead to us having a more secure water supply, but that's not the case," Mr Logan told the Leader.
"It may lead to us using less water, but the water that we don't use goes into the collective pot for redistribution to all the customers downstream of Chaffey Dam."
He said the state government takes a look at how much of the precious resource is splashing around in Chaffey Dam at the start of each year, and decides what percentage of that water should be used for irrigators, the environment and for residents.
Council is forced to work within those rules, meaning the water that Tamworth locals might save if they stayed on strict restrictions could simply be sold off to businesses and landholders, Mr Logan said.
"What I think should happen is the water that's saved by the community, there should be a certain percentage set aside in the dam to reward the fact that the community isn't using that water, but it doesn't happen," Mr Logan said.
"Until that is changed, just because we're on tighter restrictions in town all the time, doesn't mean we are going to actually save any water in Chaffey Dam."
Tamworth Regional Council has a drought management plan review in the pipeline, and is hoping to be flooded with community responses.
Council is in the midst of a survey where people who have town water flowing from the taps can answer questions about water management, to help navigate what an updated plan should look like.
The drought management plan is what guides the decisions about when to relax or tighten water restrictions based on Chaffey Dam's level, among a bucket load of other issues.
Just because we're on tighter restrictions in town all the time, doesn't mean we are going to actually save any water in Chaffey Dam.Bruce Logan
"The drought management plan essentially says that if these are the rules that we've got, how then do we manage our water so that we don't run out," Mr Logan said.
Although water rules clearly have leaks, they still exist for a reason.
"Water restrictions are only used to make sure we do not run out of water," he said.
"But every kilolitre of water you don't use is a kilolitre of water you don't have to pay for.
"The other more important thing is that with climate change ... we are going to have more dry times and that means we're going to have to be conditioned to using less water."
Mr Logan floated the idea of adding more flexibility into the drought management plan, so water restrictions could take in factors other than "trigger points" at Chaffey Dam.
"In terms of having a look at trigger levels and delaying the relaxation of water restrictions based on a forecast is problematic, because if the forecast doesn't come about, council would be criticised," he told the Leader.
"It is something to look at but in terms of clarity and a plan about managing water for the community, it's better to have less confusion."
Residents can access the water survey on Tamworth Regional Council's website until February 5.