While Malpas Dam sits at 48 per cent and water tankers supply Guyra, Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray said Armidale had less than a year's supply of water left, and CEO Susan Law said council was treating it as a crisis situation.
"We have elevated it in priority in terms of where we put our resources, both financial and people, because it is becoming pretty urgent that we can do the best we can to resolve the lack of water situation," Mrs Law said.
"At the moment staff are identifying the people we need to help us look for alternate sources of water supply, which is likely to be underground, and writing the brief for them to do that work."
Mrs Law said experienced hydrologists were in short supply because many other areas of NSW were in a similar or worse position than we are. She said the single thing that could make the biggest difference to our situation, short of a lot of rain, was people modifying their water usage.
"We are still using significantly more than the State average, and if we got towards the State average of 145 litres per person, then that would make a big difference," she said.
Mrs Law said residents of Armidale could expect to see water restrictions go to a different level soon.
Cr Murray said part of council's problem was that it was now entering an unknown situation.
"The lower Malpas Dam gets and the quality of the water deteriorates, it might get to a point where we can't treat it," he said.
"The question is, we don't know what the quality of the last 25 per cent of the water is going to be like.
"So, we haven't got 50 per cent [left], we've got less than that. We've got potentially 25 to 30 per cent of usable water less. We just don't know what that bottom silt is going to be like."