Big boon for bore drillers

Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Albany Irrigation and Drilling’s retail manager Wade Morrison with Caluka Farms Murray Holmes with a bore and solar pump installed on their Narrikup property to supply of 15,000 sheep with water.
Camera IconAlbany Irrigation and Drilling’s retail manager Wade Morrison with Caluka Farms Murray Holmes with a bore and solar pump installed on their Narrikup property to supply of 15,000 sheep with water. Credit: Photography

The Great Southern’s water shortage has proved to be a boon for the bore-drilling businesses.

A string of dry and warm seasons has left farmers struggling to rely on rainfall to keep their stock alive.

To get water in dams and fill drinking troughs, there has been an increase in bores drilled across the regions, as a last resort for much-needed water.

Albany received only 43.2mm of rainfall for September, which is 60mm below the average.

The average maximum temperature was 19.3C — a whole two degrees higher than average.

After Albany’s driest year on record in 2018, landowners are drought-proofing for the worrying summer months ahead with little water stocks built up.

Business is “flat out” for Albany Irrigation and Drilling co-owner Jacco Mantel.

Work is normally quiet over winter but he said the demand for bores had not stopped.

“We are drilling bores the whole year round now,” he said.

“Normally at the end of autumn it slows down a bit, but what we are noticing now is that we are even being asked in winter time to drill bores.

“Also we are drilling further inland more than normal — we have been going up to Lake King and the Newdegate area. We are expecting it to keep busy because our ‘quiet’ period was busy.”

The bore company is drilling roughly three or four bores a week, and up to three bores a day in some cases.

While water near the south coast is usually fresh and abundant, he said inland water was often salty, but that had not stopped farmers giving it a crack. Especially here around Albany and there is water everywhere — it doesn’t matter where you drill,” he said.

“Inland it is more difficult to find water and sometimes you are drilling in granite. We drilled for a farmer in Newdegate and we didn’t find any water but he still wants us to come back to see if there is something.”

The drilling company normally drills 50m underground and water flow can vary from 10 litres per minute to 100 litres per minute.

“We drilled a bore in Jerramungup so that farmers can go there and get their water from the bore, and there’s a solar pump on it filling a tank for the farmers to use,” he said.

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