Water wars: Manilla locals block bulk filling station with cars to stop water carters

BLOCKED: Up to five cars blocked access to the bulk water filling station.
BLOCKED: Up to five cars blocked access to the bulk water filling station.

MANILLA residents are "disgusted" water carters are using water from the town's bulk filling station to "fill up pools in Tamworth", parking their cars in front of the station to block carters' access.

A number of residents have vented their frustration, with a meeting planned for this evening.

Tamworth Regional Council said it was closely monitoring the situation, but at the moment had no plans to shut the bulk filling station as it had done in Bendemeer and Attunga for similar reasons.

The protesters, some of which have "Save Our Water" signs hanging from their car windows, say they are "happy to move for Manilla locals, but not for carters [topping up] peoples' pools".

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Manilla resident Jeff Hawley recently wrote to council, pleading with them to shut the bulk filling station.

"I and many other residences are disgusted in TRC allowing water carters coming from Tamworth and taking water from the filling station at Manilla, and carting it back to Tamworth to top up swimming pools," Mr Hawley wrote.

"I find it an insult to Manilla residence that this water is being taken to Tamworth when we have very little limited supply left in Split Rock Dam."

Manilla is currently being supplied by the Manilla River. Manilla resident Emily Economos also raised concerns in a letter to the Leader.

"The people of Manilla have witnessed trucks coming to Manilla and filling up with water from the showground everyday for the past couple of days, and these are big trucks," she wrote.

"The only reason they can do this is because Tamworth council has not increased the water restrictions from level three.

"The community spirit in Manilla is strong and they don't want to be misled or deceived by Tamworth council any longer an urgent meeting with council and the manilla community needs to happen."

In a letter responding to Mr Hawley, TRC water director Bruce Logan said for now Manilla was capable of meeting the increase demand placed on the system by the bulk filling station.

"Council is monitoring projections, provided by Water NSW, indicating how long the Split Rock supply will last under current demands," Mr Logan wrote.

"Based on this information it is not proposed to limit access to the Manilla bulk water filling station at this time, however this situation is constantly under review.

"It should be noted that it is not possible to police where the water accessed from a filling station is taken to and used for, therefore if a station is closed it will be closed to all except licensed water carters to deliver drinking water to rural properties only."

A TRC spokesperson said a councillor workshop on various water issues was scheduled for Tuesday, where the "options for the ongoing operation and use of bulk water filling stations" will be one of the topics discussed.

"We will be in a position to provide an update after this workshop," the TRC spokesperson said.

"Council is constantly reviewing the use of all bulk water filling stations, including the station located in Manilla."

Manilla level 3 water Restrictions

- All use of sprinklers is banned - including sprinklers, sprays, microjet sprays, fixed hoses and subsurface dripper systems.

- Handheld hoses for 15 minutes only per property within the two hour window of 5pm to 7pm Eastern Standard Time or 6pm to 8pm Daylight Saving Time.

- No washdown of hard surfaces outdoors, including pressure cleaners.

- Pools can be filled during 15 minutes of allowed hose time.

- All previously issued Water Management Plans are now inactive.

- Recycled, greywater and rainwater can be used. Rainwater tanks can only be approved by Council and a sign issued if they are stand-alone and not able to be switched to the treated supply.

- Buckets and watering cans can be used within the two hour window without limitation.

This story Bulk-filling station barricaded to stop water carters first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.