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Water restrictions could be wound back in Tamworth after rain finally falls in the catchment

By Patrick Bell and Caitlin Furlong, Tuesday July 28, 2020 - 13:57 EST
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The Peel River in Tamworth is rising quickly after good rains. - ABC

After almost a year on level five water restrictions, relief could be in sight for the city of Tamworth in north-west NSW after a healthy dose of rain at the weekend.

Tamworth Airport recorded about 27 millimetres of rainfall since Sunday, but there have been reports of higher totals closer to the region's main water source, Chaffey Dam.

The latest data shows the dam's capacity approaching 19 per cent, an increase of about four per cent from Saturday.

Tony Webber from Water NSW said the early signs were encouraging.

"The rain looks like it's stuck around, we've seen some heavier falls that probably weren't on the radar," he said.

"What we hope is that we get a little bit of follow-up rain, or there's been a surprising fall somewhere …and that joins up and runs in as well."

Tamworth Regional Council's Louise Cadell said inflows into Chaffey Dam were expected for "the next few days".

"We can expect with some really good inflows still in the Peel River that figure will continue to rise," Ms Cadell said.

Restrictions could be lifted

Water restrictions would be relaxed to level four if Chaffey Dam hits 25 per cent capacity.

That would lift the region's target daily water usage from 16.1 megalitres per day to 18.5ML.

Ms Cadell said the prospect of more rain in August makes the relaxation of restrictions more likely.

"The catchment is drenched and any rain that's falling in the catchment is actually running off into the right places," she said.

"It wasn't doing that in the past."

Rainfall in the region this year has largely missed the catchment.

The council has urged the community to remain vigilant with its water usage until any change comes into effect.

"We are still on level five water restrictions at this point in time, and that is 150 litres per person, per day," Ms Cadell said.

The council is currently not sourcing water from Chaffey Dam, instead using the region's secondary water storage at Dungowan Dam.

It said Dungowan Dam is approaching 100 per cent capacity.


© ABC 2020

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