Authorities have warned that major Australian towns will completely run out of drinking water in the absence of major rainfall in few months, forcing them to introduce the world's toughest restrictions.
Projections from NSW's river operator and bulk water supplier WaterNSW show without significant rain the first towns to lose water supply will be Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan and Narromine with the Macquarie River forecast to run dry by November.
It's been described as a 'critical' situation by NSW Water Minster Melinda Pavey with the government insisting it's doing everything it can to make sure the state gets through this devastating drought.
Projections by WaterNSW show parts of Sydney would run dry in October 2021 before the city completely runs out of water supply three months later, without the desalination plant (pictured Warragamba Dam)
Warragamba Dam, which supplies 80 per cent drinking water to Sydney residents, is projected to stop flowing by January 2022, according to WaterNSW
Under the worst-case scenario Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan and Narromine to run dry by November
Forbes, Cowra and Parkes are expected to run out of drinking water supply by March 2020
Parts of Sydney will become dry by October 2021 and the city will have no drinking water by January 2022
Water is projected to stop flowing from taps in the northern NSW town of Inverell in March 2021
WaterNSW predicts rivers which straddle the NSW and Queensland border and supply water to the towns of Boggabilla, Ashford and Goondiwindi will run dry by September 2020
Long-range forecasts predict Warragamba Dam, Australia's largest urban water supply dam, will stop flowing by January 2022.
It received 105GL of water in the last year compared to its annual average of 1069GL.
But there is an immediate crisis looming in the Far West and the Central West towns of NSW which are going through the worst drought in 100 years.
The Macquarie River gets an average inflow of 1448GL annually, but in the past two years it has seen just 97GL enter the river system.
Under the worst-case scenario, the Lachlan River, which runs through the state's Central West, is projected to run dry by March 2020 leaving the towns of Forbes, Cowra and Parkes without water supply.
The river is the fourth longest in Australia and annually receives an average of 1212GL of water but in the last year recorded inflows of just 107GL.
The first towns to lose water supply in the Far West will be Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan and Narromine with the Macquarie River forecast to run dry in November (pictured Rawsonville Bridge over the Macquarie River near Dubbo)
Under the worst-case scenario, the Lachlan River (pictured), which runs through the state's Central West, is projected to run dry by March 2020 leaving the towns of Forbes, Cowra and Parkes without water supply
The state's northwest including the small towns of Manilla and Boggabri could also run out of water by the same date if the upper Namoi River doesn't receive