CHICKEN farms could be connected to Tamworth city's water supply, the council considering all options after a failed trial of redirecting recycled water into the Peel River.
With the river cut off, five chicken farms that supply the vast majority of poultry to Baiada's processing plants have been left without water.
Over the past four weekends, the council trialled the release of 60 megalitres of treated effluent down the Peel to see how far it would get. TRC water director Bruce Logan said, "Unfortunately, it didn't get very far."
"Of the six high-security titleholders we were trying to help, we only got water to one of them," Mr Logan said.
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said another option the council would consider was "if there was some merit" in connecting the farms to town water.
"In the years gone by, we've had discussion about potentially connecting them to the water service," Cr Murray said.
"There is a well-established cluster of chicken sheds in that Appleby region and it could open up further development."
If Baiada was forced to scale back its production and workforce, Cr Murray said it would be "devastating" to the economy.
"It is actually the biggest contributor to the regional economy," he said.
"It is certainly not the intention of the council to see those jobs compromised. That's one of the things we are fighting really hard to retain."
Cr Murray insisted the town water connection was only an idea but, if it was to go ahead, the council would ask the state government to fund the project with money from the emergency drought water provision.
"We'd also talk to the company about what level of contribution they might make," he said.
Australian Community Media understands three of the farms, owned by ProTen, have sunk bores and are waiting for them to be licensed. Baiada, which owns the other two farms, did not respond to questions about its water situation and whether it would have to cut back production.
The story Tamworth council considers water connection for chicken farms first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.