DROUGHT: The water supply situation in Tenterfield is becoming critical.
DROUGHT: The water supply situation in Tenterfield is becoming critical.

'RACE AGAINST TIME': Water supply could end in 200 days

WHILE it's been a wet month for coastal Northern Rivers with some towns receiving more than 200mm of rain, it's a whole other story in Tenterfield.

According to Weather Zone Ballina has received 204.2mm this month over 12 days, 157.2mm for Byron Bay in 13 days and 120.8 for Lismore in 15 days.

But Tenterfield has barely scraped 200mm of rain for the whole year.

A release from the council said it was "a race against time to find, extract, pump, and transport more water to the dam, unless of course the catchment receives significant rain".

Water supplies are rapidly decreasing and the future of water supply is dire.

Tenterfield Dam is currently at 33 per cent capacity and decreasing, according to Tenterfield Shire Council.

A council document said the worst case scenario is that Tenterfield could run out of water in less than 200 days.

The forecast time to run out without rain is worst case January 4, 2020 and best case, June 4 2020.

"The best case scenario, despite topping up with the Shirley Park bore water, will be less than 360 days," it states.

The paper confirmed the amount of water left was unknown, because the silt build up has not been confirmed since 1951.

"We're currently engaging a surveyor to complete a hydrographic survey. Once this is done council will know exactly how many days' supply is available. Our guess though, is the best case is closer to half way between the worst and best case lines - maybe 300 - 320 days."

Mayor Peter Petty, and the Chief Executive, Terry Dodds, have been in almost daily contact with the Cross Border Commissioner/Regional Town Water Supply Coordinator regarding emergency funding and funding of the future stages.

At this stage Council has received part funding for the first stage, some $373,000, from the State Government.

The emergency water augmentation works will cost around $3.2 million.

Mayor Peter Petty said council was doing everything possible to ensure the sustainability of the Tenterfield water supply.

"We are very aware that everybody is taking this matter very seriously and reducing their water consumption as far as possible. Council is doing everything it can to ensure that we don't need to impact our community further," he said.