WITH the Macquarie River and Chifley Dam both running low, Bathurst could be facing tighter water restrictions sooner than first thought.
Bathurst Regional Council is scheduled to have a working party on Wednesday to discuss the water situation, with the trigger point for level four restrictions likely to be re-evaluated.
Councillor Monica Morse believes the people of Bathurst are largely unaware of the severity of the problem.
"With the river as low as this, with the dam water being released at low levels, we are looking at, together with the expertise of the council officers, imposing higher level water restrictions," she said.
"If people came down and saw how low [the river] was, they would realise how much rain we're not getting. And the forecast for the next three months is not good."
Currently, the trigger point for level four restrictions is when Chifley Dam hits 29 per cent.
Council's director of Engineering Services, Darren Sturgiss, said councillors could choose to make a variation to that standard.
As of June 4, the dam sat at 42.7 per cent, however, it is likely that the bottom 10 or so per cent of the dam water won't be viable.
"That level hasn't been seen for a considerable number of years - decades - so the water quality at that point and below is undetermined," Mr Sturgiss said.
"What that means is, potentially, there's the likelihood of silt and so forth that might also be drawn from the water takeoff point of the dam. We just don't know."
If that is the case, that means the dam level in actuality is much closer to 30 per cent capacity.
With that and the seasonal outlook in mind, Cr Morse said she was reluctant to leave the level four trigger point at 29 per cent.
"I personally don't think we should allow it to get that low," she said.
"It's currently at 42.7 per cent and if we keep on just saying 'Oh, we'll leave it until 29 per cent', then we are really in trouble.
"We need to get information from our staff about water restrictions, how we can make sure our parks and sporting fields maintain some sort of existence, because once you've lost a sporting field it's very costly to reinvigorate it."
If higher restrictions were implemented, it would mean residents would no longer be able to water lawns; gardens could only be watered two days a week using a bucket or watering can; and showers would be limited to four minutes.
Introducing water restrictions was no easy feat, as the mayor needed to use his tie-break vote get the trigger point to change from 40 per cent to 75 per cent.
However, support might come easier this time.
Some councillors have raised their concerns over the declining water level in the catchment, most recently at Wednesday night's policy committee meeting.
Cr Jess Jennings was the first to bring up water security, asking what the plan B would be for Bathurst if Chifley Dam was exhausted.
He said he wanted to see council write to both the state and federal governments to "flag our scenario", that Bathurst is relying on the water in Chifley Dam alone.
Cr Jennings was told by the general manager that his suggestion could be discussed at the upcoming working party.
Later, Cr Ian North, who voted against implementing water restrictions in October, said he wanted to see council increase community awareness about water restrictions.
"I'm still seeing people out there watering their lawns in the middle of the day," he said.
"I'm not sure people understand the severity of the issue that we have. That bottom 10 per cent or so [of the dam] is useless.
"I think maybe that message needs to get out there. I strongly feel people do not understand, because we've never really gotten to this stage."
The topic of Bathurst's Waterwise messaging is also expected to be discussed further at the working party.
To learn more about water restrictions, visit council's website.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.