DRY SPELL: Tenterfield's town water supply is running low.
DRY SPELL: Tenterfield's town water supply is running low. Zoe Lederhose

Dire situation: 'We'd only have 170 days of water left'

TENTERFIELD Shire is "the worst you'd ever want to see it now", with the region in its second year of "really bad drought conditions" according to mayor Peter Petty.

Cr Petty described the situation as "terrible".

"There is absolutely no surface water in this district," he said.

The whole North Coast is still drought affected, with a large portion still in intense drought according to the DPI Combined Drought Indicator.

DPI's April seasonal update revealed prolonged and widespread drought conditions were still current for the majority of NSW throughout April, with only isolated areas in drought recovery.

Across NSW, 99 per cent is still in one of three drought categories.

Tabulam mayor Peter Petty said the town was "facing a dire situation with town water supply".

"We are at 4.5 which is just a shandy off 5. That's limiting people to a certain amount of water per day," he said.

"We are down to 35 per cent in our dam and that's our main concern.

"We've only got one supplement bore which roughly puts about a day's use back in the water supply and if it falls apart or runs out of water we're buggered.

"We'd only have 170 days of water left if we were to rely on the dam."

Cr Petty is seeking funding from Minister of Water Melinda Pavey to source more bores in the region in a bid to avoid a more critical situation.

He said the council had set up a stock bore for people off the land to come and get water for free to take the pressure off the town's potable water.

Despite some moderate to high rainfall events across the state, rainfall totals throughout April were generally inadequate to lift the state out of drought conditions.

"On the 3-5 May 2019 a significant rainfall event bought 25-100mm to the west, north-west and south of the state. While this is an easing of conditions in these areas, as it is timely for sowing winter crops and should relieve stock water stress, it does not represent a full break from drought at this stage," the DPI overview states.

"The intensity of drought conditions across NSW are varied, with the far west and north of the state continuing to experience severe conditions.

"Producers continue to manage feed deficits and water shortages, while critical winter crop sowing and winter feed gap periods rapidly approach in the northern cropping belt and northern tablelands."

Last winter Tenterfield Shire Council worked with the Salvation Army to provide hay to the region, and now they are trying to be "ahead of the game" with no big change in weather on the horizon.

"People had been using potable water for stock and we can't afford to do that," he said.

"Cattle producers have gone down to their core stock now and sold all the cows and surplus cattle that they don't need to take through winter.

"This will test a lot of producers."