Armidale Regional Council's new water dispensing station at the Arboretum is closed on weekends until council can stop people abusing the water supply.
The station was opened on September 20, to supply water to drought-affected rural residents not connected to town water supplies. It was meant to be accessible outside business hours and every day of the week, mayor Simon Murray said when it opened last month.
It was shut for the first time this weekend, but is open Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm.
"What we wanted to do was slow down consumption a bit, while we work through a means of ensuring that those who really need it are getting access to it, and it's not being abused," council CEO Susan Law said.
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One of the big concerns, Ms Law said, was that a huge amount of water has been taken from that supply over the last two weeks.
"The water that's been going from the arboretum has been a substantial amount; in fact, it's one of our highest points of usage," Ms Law said.
People from outside the council area have accessed it; others have taken more water than is reasonable for their domestic use; and some have used it to clean their cars and water their gardens - prohibited under level 5 water restrictions.
Council are working on methods to prevent these abuses. "We certainly need to make provision for restricting supply to those who aren't using it in a way that is for domestic use, or not are our rural residents," Ms Law said.
"What we don't want to do is restrict access to those who are in our rural areas, those not on our reticulated supply, being able to get water for their domestic use. So we're working through a system which might include people being able to substantiate that they are our rural residents, and that they are going to use it in quantities which are commensurate with the their domestic use."
Some rural residents feel that they have been inconvenienced by the station closing on the weekends.
"We appreciate their concern," Ms Law said. "Our job is to make sure that those who need it - that is, our rural residents - can get access to water when they need it."