Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) will investigate the option of supplying groundwater for use at Tamworth's Sporting Precinct, including AELEC, the Tamworth Hockey Association and Sports Dome, or connecting the facility to potable water should councillors approve a new Drought Management Plan when they meet next week.
The plan outlines TRC's Water Restrictions Policy and plans for management, which fundamentally "aim to minimise the risk to the community of running out of water, and ensure there is always sufficient water available to satisfy the basic needs of the community".
According to the document, TRC serves a total regional population of around 63,000 people, with around 54,000 people having direct access to a reticulated water supply system operated by Council.
Under an existing arrangement, backwash water from Council's Calala Water Treatment Plant is provided to the AELEC recycled water plant for treatment and then made available for use as recycled water.
But under the new plan the backwash water would be sent back to the head of the Calala Plant for retreatment as potable water when Tamworth enters level 4 or 5 water restrictions.
The change would also impact the Longyard Golf Club, which previously had an agreement with Council for the supply of backwash water to the golf course.
That agreement has since lapsed but the the owner of the course has indicated a desire to enter into a new agreement with council "as soon as possible" according to the report to go before councillors on Tuesday night.
While Council staff will "continue to investigate the possibility of supplying groundwater for use as an alternative to backwash during times of drought", the owner of the course has been advised that "supplying potable water to the Longyard Golf Course for irrigating greens etc. will not be possible at any time", the report states.
The supply of potable water to the Sporting Precinct would also mean "restricting use to non-garden or outdoor watering".
The public exhibition period for the plan ran for 28 days from June 19 to July 16, during which time council received two submissions from the public, including a proposal for water restrictions to be amended and based on the size of the block, rather than having one level of water restrictions for all residents linked to potable water.
Council concluded "this proposal would suggest that certain properties are allowed to use more water to keep their gardens alive based on the size of the garden, which does not appear equitable, would be impossible to administer and would see more water used on certain gardens just when Council is trying to conserve water use. This proposal is not supported."
The plan also references climate change.
"It is widely accepted that future climate changes could impact water supply systems through changing frequency and duration of rainfall, as well as an increase in evaporation," it says.
And it talks about additional demands on supply during drought periods where "villages that may seek water" because they are not connected to a reticulated water supply.
When it comes to emergency supply options, the report says that due to the size of population serviced by the Tamworth Water Supply System, "emergency supply options for Tamworth are more complex and will take some time to implement".
"It is estimated that at the commencement of Level 5 restrictions (when the Tamworth Emergency Water Supply Plan would be activated), Chaffey and Dungowan Dams would have the equivalent of around 24 months of restricted demands in storage, assuming ongoing severe drought conditions. Construction of emergency supply options would ideally commence when there is around 18 months of remaining storage," the reports concludes.
TRC has already commenced preparation of a long-term Water Security Plan for Tamworth, which will be prepared over a two to three year period, and will outline a staged approach to improving town water security and drought resilience.
As part of the new management plan the region's residents will also see new signage going up, in an effort to "better communicate the level of restrictions applicable" and "what can be done under that level of restrictions".
Tamworth Regional Council will meet on Tuesday, October 10.
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