- Water deficiency declared for Gairdner district in the Shire of Jerramungup
- Government to cart water for animal welfare in affected area
Gairdner in the Shire of Jerramungup has become Western Australia's 11th water deficiency declaration since May 2019, highlighting the significant impact climate change is having on rainfall in the Great Southern agricultural region.
Water Minister Dave Kelly today announced that the State Government will begin carting water from Friday, June 12 for emergency water supplies for animal welfare needs.
The official declaration follows an application from the Shire of Jerramungup on behalf of 10 farmers in the Gairdner farming area, located over 40 kilometres west of Jerramungup. A declaration is made as a last resort after continued dry conditions have depleted on-farm and local community water supplies.
The declaration will initially see up to 660 kilolitres of water carted each week to two 75,000 litre mobile water tanks at the Co-operative Bulk Handling's (CBH) site on South Coast Highway, Gairdner while a longer-term site is prepared. This will significantly reduce the distance farmers need to travel to source emergency livestock water.
Water will be sourced from the Great Southern Towns Water Supply Scheme and from the Water Corporation's Bolganup Dam.
Water carting arrangements are being managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Water Corporation.
Water deficiencies have also been declared in the shires of Ravensthorpe (Mount Short and West River area), Lake Grace (in the Mallee Hill area and Ardler Road area), Kent (Hollands Rock and South Kent), Jerramungup North and Esperance (Grass Patch and Salmon Gums) and Dumbleyung (Kukerin).
Water being carted under water deficiency declarations is strictly for emergency livestock and, if required, local firefighting emergencies. Farmers requiring crop spray water are encouraged to access scheme standpipes for this purpose, and should contact their shire or visit the Water Corporation's website for scheme standpipe locations.
In light of continuing water shortages and the need to conserve this precious resource, farmers who are carting livestock water are encouraged to cart to closed storages or tanks rather than into dams where water losses are high through evaporation.
For season 2020 farming advice, business information and the Support Services Directory, visit http://www.agric.wa.gov.au
Comments attributed to Water Minister Dave Kelly:
"The Great Southern agricultural region is experiencing extremely dry conditions following two years of well-below average annual rainfall. These conditions have led to an unprecedented 11 water deficiency declarations.
"According to rainfall figures from the Bureau of Meteorology, Gairdner Station has experienced two consecutive years of rainfall well below their annual average of 450mm (319mm in 2019 and 294mm in 2018).
"The 2018 figure is its third-lowest rainfall figure on record. While there has been some recent rainfall in the area, it has not alleviated the need for water carting.
"The 11 concurrent water deficiencies now in place across the region emphasise that the Great Southern agricultural region is one of the most impacted places on the planet for reduced rainfall due to climate change.
"We have never before seen such a high demand for water carting in the State, with carting costs for water deficiency declarations at more than $2.8 million as of the end of May 2020.
"In addition, the State Government has invested more than $1.5 million in 37 projects designed to improve community water supplies, including work on dams, catchments and bores.
"The State is calling on the Federal Government to support an expansion of this important work through the new Future Drought Fund."
Comments attributed to Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
"While the season has broken across much of the agricultural region, areas on the south coast are still experiencing significantly below average rainfall, which is impacting broad acre agribusinesses.
"This water deficiency declaration will provide livestock producers in the Gairdner district with relief, so they can look after the welfare of their animals and streamline their farm business operations by reducing the time, effort and cost of carting water."
Comment attributed to Albany MLA Peter Watson:
"We will continue to work with landholders affected by below-average rainfall, providing information and support about how to best navigate the season ahead."
Water Minister's office - 6552 6100
Agriculture and Food Minister's office - 6552 6200