New card system for free bulk water

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In another of its ongoing drought response actions, Tamworth Regional Council is about to launch a new initiative which will increase accessibility to free water for local farming families.

The installation of seven bulk water refill stations – funded under the Australian Government’s Drought Communities Programme – is almost complete.

Barraba, Bendemeer, Manilla, Hallsville, Kootingal and Tamworth will all have the new stations. Councillors at last night’s meeting also decided to add a station at Attunga using an unspent portion of the $500,000 grant.

Tamworth Region Mayor Col Murray is encouraging local primary producers to apply for a swipe card which will allow them to have free access to drinking water from the new stations in locations where Level 4 Water Restrictions do not apply.

“As this devastating drought continues, Council wants to ensure those which are most impacted – our farmers and other residents not connected to town water – will have access to the drinking water they need.

“The introduction of a card system means we make sure they can have water without cost from the new bulk water refill stations.”

At present any Tamworth Region resident can buy water from a Bulk Water Refill Station which is located in an area which does not have Level 4 Water Restrictions. However farming families, if they meet certain requirements can be issued with a swipe card to access free water from any Bulk Water Refill Station located in an area which does not have Level 4 Water Restrictions.

Stations located in areas under level 4 restrictions like those in Tamworth, Kootingal and Nundle are only accessible to commercial water carters. Approved farmers cannot access free water and the purchasing of water at these stations, other than by water carters, is not permitted.

“The big win for our Region with the installation of the new Bulk Water Refill Stations is the improved accessibility for everyone to bulk amounts of drinking water,” Cr Murray said.

“The stations have been placed to provide a strategic spread of locations across the Region.

“This means even those residents who are not primary producers and ineligible to access free water may benefit in paying a reduced cost for water delivered because water carters will have a shorter journey from the water source to their home.”

The installation of the bulk water refill stations is scheduled for completion before July 1 when Council will remove the current free water standpipes which have been in place. Signs advising users of the change to access have been installed at those locations.

In line with Council’s decision of March 12 this year, cards for free access to water will only be issued to owners of a property located within the Tamworth Regional Council area who can provide a current NSW Local Land Services Rates Notice for that property. To access the application form, go to: https://www.tamworth.nsw.gov.au/Water-Card

The swipe card system allows Council to monitor the amount of water being accessed by each user. There is a limit of three kilolitres of free water each week for each card. Any cardholder breaching the limit will have their access revoked.