IRRIGATORS in the Peel Valley have been given access to more water from the Chaffey Dam catchment, after the state government increased their allocation this month.
General security license holders along the Peel River - mostly irrigators - got their first water allocation in more than a year in January. Now, more of the precious resource has been set aside for farmers, in a statement released on Tuesday.
The valley's irrigators went from having zero river access for more than a year-and-a-half, to 16 per cent of their allocation in January, and now have climbed to 20 per cent of their allocation.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) has started assessing how much water is floating around in the valley - in tributaries, Chaffey Dam, and the river - on a monthly basis, after a year of wet weather.
The most recent resource assessment by the DPIE takes into account how much rain was dumped on the catchment and how much water flowed into Chaffey Dam during the month of January.
In February's statement, the allocation was upped for irrigators, which forced the environmental allowance to increase, and also boosted the allocation for general security aquifers - or wells - to 60.8 per cent.
Tamworth's town water supply had already been shored up for the next 24 months, based on minimum predicted water flows.
The resource had also been secured for other priority needs - like stock and domestic - for the next two years.
When irrigators "order" water on demand from Chaffey Dam, it doesn't accurately reflect how much water the supply might be losing to general security holders, a DPIE spokesperson told the Leader last week.
The spokesperson said water that can come from the unregulated sources, like tributaries flowing downstream of the dam, was a "better outcome" than having to release it from Chaffey Dam.
The next statement is set to be handed down on March 9, though it could be earlier if there is a significant change in the weather before that date.
There is room for general security allocations to increase again if the wet weather continues to boost Chaffey Dam and keeps water in the catchment flowing.
The allocation statement for the Namoi Valley this month confirms "critical requirements" for Manilla and Barraba are secure for the next 24 months - and beyond - based on the water expected to flow into Split Rock Dam.