Fourth WA farming area declared water deficient

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
Email Cally Dupe
A dried up dam, near Ravensthorpe.
Camera IconA dried up dam, near Ravensthorpe. Credit: Zach Relph

A fourth WA farming area has been declared water deficient, with the State Government set to start carting water for “animal welfare needs” to an area south of Newdegate tomorrow.

The ‘Ardler Road area’ is the second location within the Shire of Lake Grace to be declared water deficient, after the Mallee Hill area also received a declaration on May 15.

Hollands Rocks, in the Shire of Kent, and Mt Short, in the Shire of Ravensthorpe, have also been declared water deficient.

WA Water Minister Dave Kelly said the Ardler Road declaration followed a Shire application on behalf of seven farmers in the area.

A water deficiency declaration is made as a last resort after continued dry conditions.

“Without the State Government declaring a water deficiency and carting water to this area, some farmers would have had to travel up to 60 kilometres to access water for stock,” he said.

“The McGowan Government cares about our WA farming communities and the welfare of animals is a priority.

“Due to the impacts of climate change, this year is tracking to be the second driest year on record for Lake Grace.

“To date, just 193.4 mm of rainfall has been received, compared to the average of 384 mm received between 2012 and 2017.”

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.

The DWER has been carting water to Mt Short, about 20km north of Ravensthorpe, since May 8 — a day after it was declared water deficient.

Since then, more than 1962 kilolitres of water has been delivered to a tank at Mt Short dam in an attempt to replenish parched farmers’ water supply for livestock.

The Mallee Hill area, near Lake Grace, was declared water deficient on May 15 with emergency livestock water carting starting 24 hours later.

Less than three weeks after the Mallee Hill declaration, the Hollands Rock area in the Shire of Kent was also deemed water deficient.

Water carting to the Mallee Hill and Hollands Rock areas was suspended on July 30, with 1988 kilolitres and 954 kilolitres respectively delivered to both sites.

The decision came after farmers told DWER there was sufficient water levels on-farm for livestock, a department spokesman said.

Mr Kelly said the State Government had invested more than $1.1 million in developing and upgrading 18 community water supplies in the south-eastern Wheatbelt during the past 18 months.

WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said water availability for livestock continued to be a challenge in areas affected by below average winter rainfall.

“The top priority is to ensure the welfare of livestock and these water deficiency declarations will help farmers to access emergency livestock water supplies,” she said.

“We are continuing to closely monitor seasonal conditions and offering support where needed.”

DWER is liaising with local government authorities and farmers in other dryland areas to monitor their on-farm water storage and water requirements, and encourages Community Water Supply Program grant applications in areas of need.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails