Frequently Asked Questions

We've got the answers to the most commonly asked questions about water restrictions, town water supply and the current water situation.

Water Restrictions

For all your FAQ's on water restrictions.

Level 4 Water Restrictions were introduced for Nundle in January 2019 while Tamworth, Moonbi and Kootingal moved to Level 4 on Monday 6 May, 2019.

Manilla and Bendemeer are on Level 3 water restrictions. Attunga is on level 1 water restrictions and Barraba remains on Permanent Water Conservation Measures.

Find out what you can and can not do in you area here.

Under Level 4 Water Restrictions, residents cannot top up private pool using treated water from their town water supply. However, they can engage a water carter to top up the pool, provided the water carter sources the water from a location not on Level 4 restrictions such as Attunga or Barraba.

The use of swimming pool covers can help reduce evaporation from pools by up to 90% and are a very effective way of reducing the amount of water needed to top up pools. Council offers rebates of up to $100 for residential swimming pool covers. Rebates are also offered for the installation of rainwater tanks, under certain rules, and this water could be used to fill pools.

To apply for a swimming pool cover rebate, simply download and fill in the water rebate application form available on Council's website and then send the completed form to Council.

There are a number of reasons why we don’t apply restrictions earlier, including;

  • Rather than introduce restrictions on a random basis we have a plan - the Drought Management Plan. This plan helps to ensure restrictions are introduced in individual centres such that no specific location in our Region runs out of water. When there is plenty of water consumers should be able to use that water as they see fit as long as it is done sustainably – for example, not watering during the heat of the day. But as a particular supply reduces, restrictions are introduced to curb demand.
  • The previous Drought Management Plan got us through the very severe drought in 2006-2007 with no centre running out of water.
  • We are in a far, far better water situation in Tamworth with the augmentation of Chaffey Dam than we would have been if the smaller dam was still in use. For example, the new storage was full in 2016 which equates to 102,000 Megalitres. Without the larger storage, the maximum amount the dam could have held in 2016 was 62,000 Megalitres. Given the conditions we have experienced since 2016, with the smaller dam it could be argued we would be 38,000 Megalitres worse off than what we are now.
  • The Plan after review in 2015 sees Level 1 Water Restrictions introduced when the storage is 10,000 Megalitres higher than with the smaller dam.
  • Water is released from Chaffey Dam not just for Council but for other customers who access water from Chaffey Dam, like irrigators. It is not effective to introduce severe restrictions in Tamworth/Moonbi/Kootingal when water is still being released from the dam for other uses. For example, in 2018-19 water will be released to supply 36% of the irrigators’ entitlements - known as the Available Water Determination (AWD). If water restrictions curb demand to where more water is left in the storage, then this water may be sold to the irrigators and other customers through an increase in the AWD. The AWD is made for the water year – July to June. It cannot be reduced once made, but it can be increased.
  • Customers don’t have to wait for Council to introduce restrictions, they are free to restrict their water use as they see fit.

A test of odds and evens conducted prior to 2007 showed water consumption increased using this system.

It is thought the reason for this increase was due to residents watering on their allotted day whether or not their garden needed to be watered. Council also received complaints from residents of even number properties about how residents of odd numbered properties had more opportunity to water given some months had 31 days.

Applying restrictions equally to all residents has shown a consistent decrease in consumption across all treated water users, regardless of the restriction level.

Yes, if the cleaning is for ESSENTIAL health, hygiene and safety reasons only and water is being used conservatively. Always use a pressure cleaner or bucket to ensure minimal use of water. Reasonable end of lease cleaning would be considered essential. This includes things such as removing animal waste, grease and other health/hygiene matters. For items such as leaves, dust and cobwebs etc a broom or non-water using cleaning method should be used.

Residents

Answers to your FAQ's about how the current water situation impacts you.

Owners of property connected to reticulated water pay an annual charge and a consumption charge. An annual charge is a charge levied against the cost for Council to provide water at a particular connection whether or not any water is actually consumed. A consumption charge is calculated from the amount of water actually consumed at the property.

Property owners/ residents are able to consume as much water as they want provided they pay the cost associated and they comply with any rules applied by Council like those in the Drought Management Plan.

Yes. Regardless of the water restriction levels all residents are permitted to use the necessary water to maintain essential health, safety and hygiene for themselves and others living in their residence.

Yes. Animal welfare should never be compromised regardless of the restriction levels. Where possible, Council recommends reducing the frequency of bathing pets if this does not compromise the health, safety and hygiene of the animal or residents.

Yes but, you should first contact Council to inspect your tank or bore. Once confirmed that the treated water supply is not being used you will be issued with a "Tank or Bore Water In Use" sign to display at the front of your property. Using a non-Council issued sign may still lead to you receiving a warning letter for using water.

You can book a free tank inspection by completing the form on our website - www.tamworth.nsw.gov.au/tankinspection

No. Gardens in the Tamworth region should be designed or maintained knowing that Tamworth has a variable climate, meaning that amounts of rainfall we receive can change over long cycles. Residents’ expectations of access to town water supplies to maintain gardens should be connected directly to this climate variability.

Council also strongly urges residents to be self-sufficient as much as possible when it comes to outside water usage by installing rainwater tanks that can be used to service plants or smaller areas of lawn. For more information, click here.

Councillors decided at the 30 April 2019 meeting to trial the use of Automated Meter Readers at no cost to our water customers.

The devices record the use of water at set intervals and this information will show us when water is being used at a particular property. In the event that monitoring shows no evidence of non-compliance with water restrictions there will be no further action taken.

The trial involves 100 of the new devices and they will be installed progressively at weekends from 4 May, 2019.

Residents may see a new meter being installed at their home. This is at no cost to our water customers. They do not change the water flow to properties.

Staff carrying out installations have been asked to tell any householder who asks them for information to tell them to call our Customer Service Team on 6767 5555 during office hours for any questions to be answered.

When we install an Automated Meter Reader at a property, Council is not drawing any conclusions in relation to non-compliance of water restrictions. However, a noticeably green lawn or garden certainly can be an indicator of increased water use. The device being trialled can substantiate the lawn or garden is being maintained within the water restriction rules. Complaints made to Council about water rule breaches would also be a way to identify properties to have Automated Meter Readers installed.

There has been widespread information about the devices communicated through local media and Council’s own social media channels. Our consistent message has been that the Automated Meter Readers noticeably green lawns and gardens will be one of the indicators we use to identify properties where a device may be installed.

Council knows that most residents are exploring alternate water sources to the town water supply to allow them to maintain their lawn and garden while complying with water restrictions. The installation of the Automated Meter reader can help us to understand residents’ water use patterns. It is certainly not Council’s intention to make residents who receive an Automated Meter Reader feel they are being accused of breaking the water restriction rules. The Automated Meter Reader will give us data evidence to show residents are complying with water restrictions.

As the planned new Bulk Water Refill Stations are installed across the Region, the hydrant standpipes in the same area which have been providing free water will be closed and removed.

Free water will be made available from the new bulk water refill stations using a swipe card system which property owners in the Tamworth Region who also receive a NSW Local Land Services Rates Notice can apply for.

However, access to a bulk water refill station will cease to all customers except for bulk water carters once Level 4 Water Restrictions are reached in that locality.

For more information about the stations, click here

The Residential Water Saving Rebate scheme was originally conceived in 2007 to offset the use of the treated town water supply.

It is essentially a financial rebate on water rates paid by those residents connected to the town supply who are making efforts to offset their consumption of town water.

Council

Answers to FAQ's about what Council is doing about the current water situation.

Council is working on a range of additional drought response and water sustainability actions. Councillors endorsed funding for those measures at the April 30 Council Meeting.

These include additions to the Residential Water Rebate Scheme, some investigations into the viability of additional bore water sources and a trial of Automated Meter Reading for residential homes.

Work is in progress on an earlier agreed initiative of carrying out water audits of 53 of the region’s large water users. It is hoped these audits will help identify ways a business can reduce water consumption, and in so doing, reduce the demand for water and help save the business money on on-going water consumption charges.

Whilst we have enough water for Tamworth requirements, including catering for population growth for the next 20-30 years, Council has already been looking at where additional water will come from post 2040.

A range of options have been looked at by a water engineering consultant and Council has decided to do further detailed investigation of the following four options:

  • Transferring water from Keepit Dam via a 62km pipeline
  • Upgrading Dungowan Dam from 6 gigalitres to between 20-25 gigalitres
  • A 10-15 gigalitre off-river storage upstream of Tamworth
  • Accessing more ground (bore) water through further use of Peel River Drift Wells and an additional bore field to be developed 26km downstream of Tamworth.

Council will continue to work with both the Australian and State governments and private enterprise to further investigate these options so that Tamworth's future water supply is assured.

Council does abide by restrictions with two exceptions:

  • Where the area being watered is using ground water. In this case Council always aims to have watering completed by 9am. Water restrictions do not apply for the use of groundwater. In this case Council aims to have watering completed by 9am. Most of our parks and playing fields using groundwater have signs advising groundwater is in use.
  • For preparation of high-profile events when normal watering is not enough to meet the additional demand placed on public facilities.

Under the Drought Management Plan, Council has a system where public parks, gardens and playing fields are prioritised from 1-5, with Category 1 the highest priority, Category 5 the lowest. As restrictions are introduced the lower priority sites stop being irrigated completely.

When Level 4 water restrictions are reached irrigation stops completely on all public parks, gardens and playing fields, unless they are supplied with groundwater supplies.

Council is working towards increasing the number of green spaces and sporting fields that are able to be watered using groundwater rather than drinking water.

Modelling of Tamworth's existing water supplies has shown that with the augmented Chaffey Dam - increasing its storage capacity from 62 gigalitres to 102 gigalitres - there will be sufficient water to meet Tamworth's demand for the next 20-30 years, including allowances for population growth. See graph below:

The augmentation does not mean there will be no restrictions ever, but that during times of low supply, the restrictions implemented should ensure that we do not run out of water during prolonged dry periods.

Restrictions help to ensure we all have the water we need - even in times of drought.

Council has been actively pursuing opportunities to reduce the amount of treated water it uses. Works completed include:

  • Bicentennial Park including No. 1 Oval and Tamworth Regional Playground is now watered using ground or bore water,
  • Likewise, almost all the sporting fields in the Riverside precinct and the Gipps Street Playing Fields are now watered using groundwater,
  • Viaduct Park at North Tamworth and the park at Redbank Calala are also irrigated with groundwater,
  • All Council buildings have had their water use assessed and where possible installations have been upgraded (such as sensor taps in bathrooms) to reduce water consumption,
  • All the green space at the Northern Inland Centres of Sporting Excellence, including the Australian Equestrian and Livestock Events Centre, Tamworth Sports Dome and Tamworth Hockey Centre are irrigated using recycled water. The water used is generated as part of the treatment process at the Calala Water Treatment Plant, before being recycled for use in irrigation.

Businesses

Answers to your FAQ's about the impact on businesses.

Business, industry and commercial operations are the last water users to be restricted under Council’s Drought Management Plan. Restricting water usage for business and industry has the potential to reduce production or operations which leads to a reduction in jobs.

During periods of low water supply the Drought Management Plan begins by restricting water for non-essential activities like maintaining green lawns or topping up swimming pools in order to conserve it for business and industry and indoor residential use. If water supplies become too low, business and industry is then restricted and water is conserved for critical human needs such as drinking, cleaning and cooking.

Council has previously conducted water usage audits on businesses by using independent water operations consultants to provide advice on how these businesses could improve water efficiencies in their operations. Many have successful water sustainability initiatives in place.

Fortunately, water restrictions have not reached the critical levels where Council has had to restrict business, industrial or commercial water usage.

Business and industry setting up or continuing to operate in the Tamworth region means jobs and economic growth. Council has never had to restrict business, industrial or commercial water usage. Modelling of Tamworth's existing water supplies has shown that with the augmentation of Chaffey Dam to increase its storage capacity from 62 gigalitres to 100 gigalitres there will be sufficient water to meet Tamworth's demand for the next 20-30 years, including allowances for growth.

Under level 4 & 5 restrictions motels, hotels and guest houses can not top up or fill their pool using town water. These businesses are able to have water brought in from a water source with lower levels of restrictions.

Council has bulk water refill stations across the region which, depending on the level of restrictions in place, can be used to purchase water for topping up pools. To find out which stations can be used visit https://bit.ly/2Zpx6fm

Dams

All your FAQ's about dams.

No. Chaffey Dam is owned, operated, managed and controlled by the State Government water authority known as WaterNSW.

Council is one customer accessing water from Chaffey Dam. Other WaterNSW customers, mostly farm irrigators in the Peel Valley can also access water from the dam.

Chaffey Dam is owned and operated by the State Government which provides water for town water supplies, environmental flows and domestic requirements for properties fronting the river, irrigated agriculture, industry and some flood mitigation. The dam provides water supplies and drought security to the city of Tamworth and significant irrigation along the Peel Valley, including supplies used for the production of cotton, wheat, lucerne, vegetables, fruit trees, oil seeds and fodder as well as pastures for sheep and cattle. There are 192 licences with a 48,292 megalitre entitlement along 590km of river. These entitlements are broken up into:

  • general security entitlements 30,468 megalitres
  • high security/industry entitlements 973 megalitres
  • stock and domestic requirements 177 megalitres
  • town water supplies 16,400 megalitres (Tamworth)

Water users hold licences to access their entitlement.

The State Government monitors the volume of water in Chaffey Dam. Each year in March or April, the Government looks at how much water is in the dam and how much is likely to flow into the dam, based on historical records

Water stored in the dam is then allocated based on its security level – with water for town water supplies allocated first and then high security entitlement holders. If there is any water still left in the storage after these entitlements have been allocated then the Government makes an Available Water Determination (AWD) which dictates how much of their entitlement a general security licence holder will be able to access in the upcoming water year (1 July to 30 June).

For example, when the dam is full the general security entitlement holders may receive an AWD of 100%, but during drought this figure can be reduced to any level even 0%. So that farmers, irrigators and other general security entitlement holders have some certainty around how much water they will get in a particular water year the AWD, once announced, can be increased throughout a water year but it cannot be reduced.

Yes. Council does own and operate and have exclusive access to the water in Dungowan Dam. However, Dungowan is a comparatively small dam when compared to other dams across the wider area. By way of comparison these dams have the following volumes:

  • Keepit - 424 gigalitres
  • Split Rock – 397 gigalitres
  • Chaffey – 102 gigalitres
  • Dungowan – 6 gigalitres

Reporting and Penalties

FAQ's on reporting a breach and what the penalties are for breaching water restrictions.

If Council Officers - who have the authority to issue fines - see someone breaching water restrictions then they can be issued with a fine of $220 on the spot.

For all other cases when Council receives a report of a resident not adhering to water restrictions, the resident is issued a first warning letter. If the issue persists at the same property a second warning will be issued.

After the second warning letter, further breaches are subject to enforcement measures.

Water restrictions are legally enforceable under the 1993 Local Government Act and Council can issue a $220 fine to residents who are found to be in breach of its current water restrictions. Following a fine residents can then have a flow restrictor fitted which limits the amount of water that is available. The resident is also charged a fee to install and another fee to remove the flow restrictor.

Report it. You can report water restrictions breaches by contacting Council on 02 6767 5555, by email trc@tamworth.nsw.gov.au or through the MyTRC App. Council will then investigate the matter further.

Drought Management Plan

For all your Drought Management Plan FAQ's.

A revised Drought Management Plan was adopted in December 2015 to coincide with the pending enlargement of Chaffey Dam. The plan is a guide detailing how Council will manage its water supplies so that no specific location runs out of water. It is meant to ensure that we have the maximum amount of water available all the time. It contains trigger points for introducing, increasing or relaxing water restrictions at each of Council's six water supplies.

We currently review the Drought Management Plan after a drought and/or every five years. It is not constructive to review the plan more regularly than that because without a drought you really don’t have any information to make an assessment on whether the plan is achieving its objectives. The aim of the plan is to ensure no specific location runs outs of water. This can only be tested in a drought, so reviewing every two years or annually would not necessarily lead to improved outcomes.

Other FAQ'S

All the answers to your other FAQ's.

The graph below shows the amount of water treated at Tamworth’s Calala Lane Water Treatment Plant each year since 1990. It also shows the population increase in Tamworth over the same period – yellow line.

You can see that despite significant increases in population the consumption of water in Tamworth has remained relatively constant – see red line.


There is minimal difference between consumption during Festival and other days in January.

Visitors to the region are expected to follow water restrictions just like any resident and are subject to the same enforcement activities if they are seen breaching restrictions.

Council will continue to find innovative ways to support our water supply during Festival and water education campaigns will be implemented to raise awareness of water conservation for both visitors and residents alike.

Tamworth Town Water Supply Consumption Statistics from January

*Consumption = ML/d (megalitres per day)

No. Water restrictions are put in place in line with the Drought Management Plan regardless of the time of year or the events being held.