WATER conservation might be at a critical level, but Central West councils say committing millions of litres of the precious resource to town swimming pools is vital.
Tough water restrictions are in place across much of the region and in some towns council-owned pools have been emptied and refilled.
A Cabonne Council spokesman said the water from seven town pools would be drained during spring and then refilled prior to re-opening later this season.
"Council needs to balance the responsible use of water with the fact that these swimming pools are an important part of the social fabric of our towns and villages and a sanctuary for many people feeling the effects of this terrible drought," he said.
The spokesman said water drained from the pools was used for road building works across the local government area.
Council needs to balance the responsible use of water with the fact that these swimming pools are an important part of the social fabric of our towns and villages and a sanctuary for many people feeling the effects of this terrible drought.Cabonne Council spokesman
A Dubbo Regional Council spokeswoman said despite the drought there would be no changes or restrictions at any of its three pools.
"While a critical role of council is to manage the distribution and use of precious water resources, just as critical is providing an inclusive social environment for residents even in hard times such as a drought," she said.
The spokeswoman said the pools were "critical for a community's social, vocational and mental health wellbeing" and council would work to carefully plan and make provisions for the ongoing operations of all council-owned aquatic centres.
Extreme water restrictions will come into force in Bathurst on October 14 and exemptions for the operation of the Manning Aquatic Centre have been considered by council.
Bathurst Regional Council director engineering services Darren Sturgiss said this would be formally considered at a meeting on October 2.
"Should increased restrictions be required, this position will be reconsidered," he said.
While Bathurst council does not typically empty pools during the winter, Mr Sturgiss said the 50-metre outdoor pool was to allow for maintenance of the tiles.
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"Water was treated through sewer treatment plant as part of trade waste requirement and released to Macquarie River," he said.
Indoor and outdoor pools at Orange Aquatic Centre will operate as normal despite the drought.
"We will be using these pools as normal including re-filling to maintain water quality standards, but we'll continue to monitor their use," manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond said.
Further information from Central West councils
Residential pools will not be allowed to be topped up after introduction of extreme water restrictions on Monday, October 14.
New pools up to that point will be allowed to be filled.
The Blayney Shire Council pool is currently undergoing refurbishment and will be empty and closed during the upcoming summer period.
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Bogan Shire Council's one public swimming pool will be re-opening on the October long weekend.
"Council believes that the pool has a high amenity value for the public as we move into a hot summer and will operate as normal," a council spokeswoman said.
Residential pools in Bogan- Under level three water restrictions new swimming pools may only be filled with council permission.
Cabonne has seven public swimming pools, four of them - Eugowra, Manildra, Canowindra and Cudal - are in areas where Central Tablelands Water (CTW) is the water authority.
"We will be working closely with CTW to ensure there is sufficient supply to fill these pools," a council spokesman said.
The water for pools at Molong, Cumnock and Yeoval is supplied by Cabonne Council.
"At this stage we don't anticipate any issues, but obviously we will have to monitor the situation particularly if there is a sudden drop in the level of Molong Creek Dam," the spokesman said.
Residential pools - Cumnock and Yeoval
Currently level two water restrictions are in place at Cumnock and level three at Yeoval.
In both these cases the first fill of a private pool is permitted between 7am-9am and 6pm-8pm. Private pools may also be topped up between 7am-9am and 6pm-8pm.
Residential pools - Molong
Level four water restrictions apply in Molong and the first fill of a private pool is permitted only with council permission and where water savings can be demonstrated elsewhere on the property. Pool covers also must be used to limit evaporation. Private pools in Molong can be topped up only between 7am-9am and 6pm-8pm provided pool covers are used.
Cowra Council does not empty the Cowra Aquatic Centre pool entirely over the winter months.
"It only gets half emptied to ensure the tiles at the base of the pool don't crack from the frosts," a council spokeswoman said.
"Cowra currently isn't on water restrictions either so residents are able to fill new pools if they wish."
The Dubbo Aquatic and Leisure centre is already operational, the Wellington Aquatic Centre is on track to open after a full redevelopment mid November 2019, and the Geurie pool will operate as normal.
A council spokeswoman said pools are often a central place of gathering for communities throughout the warmer months for both sport and recreation.
Residential pools in Dubbo - during level two restrictions the first fill of a pool must occur between 7am-9am or between 6pm-8pm only. Topping up private pools must occur from 7am-9am or 6pm-8pm on any day. On level three restrictions (which is tabled as a Mayoral Minute for Monday's Ordinary Council Meeting) residents are expected to ring council for permission to fill a pool and they are to use a pool cover to reduce evaporation.
All three council-owned public pools in the Mid-Western Region will be operational this summer.
Council ceased the practice of emptying its pools over winter some years ago due damage incurred such a cracking of tiles, however, Mudgee Pool underwent maintenance this off-season and was emptied as a result.
Water used at each facility is recycled through a balance tank, and filtered through a treatment process.
Residential pools in Mid-Western - level one water restrictions are currently in place for this area which permits the first fill and topping up of swimming pools.
Council-owned pools in Narromine and Trangie will be filled and ready for swimmers this season.
"At this stage there will be no restrictions or changes to council-owned pools," a Narromine Shire Council spokeswoman said.
Residential pools in Narromine - During the current level three water restrictions the first fill of a private swimming pool must be done with council permission and provided that pool covers are used.
There will be no changes or restrictions at any council-owned pools in the Oberon local government area due to the drought, mayor Kathy Sajowitz said.
Residential pools in Oberon - The current level one water restrictions in place for Oberon do not prohibit the filling of swimming pools either public or private. Due to the climate private pools are not a common feature in Oberon.
Residential pools in Orange - while residents can currently re-fill their privately-owned swimming pools, this may change when council moves to the next level of restrictions.
Council manager of corporate and community relations Nick Redmond said council may move up to a higher level of water restriction later this year.
"At that point, it may be a better use of water to have one community swimming centre than many across town, but that's a decision for the future," he said.
All council-owned pools will be full and ready for swimmer this year.
"Council has resolved to provide free entry to the township pools this swim season, as they did for the 2018/19 season, and half price pool entry to the Parkes Aquatic Centre," a council spokeswoman said.
Residential pools in Parkes - residents are still permitted to fill new pools.
Forbes, Hilltops and Lithgow councils were also contacted for this story, but did not respond to Australian Community Media's request for comment.
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