UPDATE: Councillor Bronwyn Petrie has done the sums and Coles water was distributed to 1550 households in Tenterfield on Sunday, with 82 to go. This doesn't include the pallets sent to the aged care homes, childcare centre and preschool and St Joseph's Primary School.
Two additional pallets are going to Mingoola tomorrow, Wednesday, courtesy of Wilshire and Co and will be available through its Mingoola CRT outlet.
EARLIER: Many town residents received a welcome surprise on the doorstep on Sunday afternoon as volunteers dropped off two 10-litre containers of drinking water to households connected to the town water supply, courtesy of Coles.
Those who had heard of the donation lined up at the local Coles store that morning to receive their ration, and to take part in a barbecue hosted by the retailer.
The water distribution all came about very quickly after Councillor and NSW Farmers branch chair Bronwyn Petrie shot off an email on Thursday to Coles' corporate headquarters in Melbourne explaining the situation leading to the town's boiled water alert, on top of its drought and fire threats. Ms Petrie had heard that Woolworths was donating water to the Stanthorpe community, and pointed out that Tenterfield's Coles branch was well-patronised by locals.
A return call from Julie Balderstone, head of community and stakeholder engagement, very quickly got the ball rolling with two truck-loads of water arriving Saturday night for distribution the next morning. Coles staff worked late Saturday and early Sunday organising 44 pallets of water along with the barbecue, and were on hand to cook up brunch and to haul containers.
Ms Petrie said a team of volunteers helped with marking off addresses of households connected to town water, and then to deliver containers to those yet to receive theirs. A few households missed out due to dogs, locked gates or unclear addresses, but Ms Petrie expects these to be resolved soon.
While there were options as to whether the water was distributed over several installments or even delayed until the following weekend, Ms Petrie said the two containers per household was a good compromise as it provided families with a 10-litre container to fill with boiled water once the container had been emptied and the next one was being used.
Logistically the water had to be distributed quickly due to storage space at the local store, and Ms Petrie thought a quick boost to community morale was wanting, given the town's concerns over its water. She said it was good to see people chatting in the queue and over a sausage sanga.
"People are down about the water situation," she said.
"We thought it best to just hook in and get it done, and cheer people up."
Pallets of water were also distributed to Millrace and Haddington, St Joseph's Primay School (public schools are receiving water from NSW Education), childcare centres and Tenterfield Preschool.
The teams of volunteers involved included councillors, council staff, five teams of Rotarians and a number of individuals who gave up their Sunday to deliver the water. The Rotarians then turned around to fill their slot in the catering roster for Blazeaid that evening.
Ms Petrie said it was a fantastic effort from Coles, on the back of its donations to the CWA which filter through to Rotary clubs to provide water to farm households that are suffering. This is the first time the corporation has donated water to town residents.
The primary focus of the drive was for residents in town and on the outskirts and surrounding farms, affected by ash in the water supply.
"It was a massive effort at short notice, but really well-received by the people," Ms Petrie said.
"People were just amazed that the water was donated to them. Hopefully we can make it happen again.
"The volunteers are worn out but I thank them immensely. It did lift people's spirits a bit."