Minister asks communities to “share the resource fairly” as water crisis worsens

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Minister Dave Kelly.
Camera IconMinister Dave Kelly. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

Record-low rainfall has caused desperate demand for water carting across the Great Southern, with Water Minister Dave Kelly appealing to the public to “share the resource fairly”.

Mr Kelly said the Water Corporation was carting about 11 million litres of drinking water each week to towns including Cranbrook, Lake King, Rocky Gully, Wellstead, Ravensthorpe and Walpole.

He announced yesterday that water carting efforts were likely to expand to Jerramungup, Ongerup, Frankland and Borden in the coming weeks.

Mr Kelly said some areas were experiencing “unprecedented” lack of rain, such as Jerramungup, which had only had two rainfall events of about 25-30mm since its last storm event in January 2017.

The Jerramungup North area in the Shire of Jerramungup was declared as water deficient in December 2019. It was one of six water deficiencies declared in the south of WA last year.

The total cost of water carting since January 2019 was estimated to be more than $4 million.

Without substantial rain, Mr Kelly said it could exceed $11 million by the end of June.

Mr Kelly made “a very direct appeal” to householders, farmers and small businesses in these communities to be careful with water use on Tuesday.

“I urge community members to please only take as much water from standpipes as they need for their weekly needs,” he said.

“I understand some people accessing scheme water via standpipes are making multiple trips as they feel they need to keep their own tanks full. But if we all do our part, and share the resource fairly, we will manage.”

Mr Kelly urged farmers to complete farm water surveys being circulated by DWER.

“These provide State Government agencies working to support farming communities with essential information to help them to continue to provide this assistance,” he said.

Farmers surrounding Newdegate and Lake Grace gathered in Newdegate for a water crisis meeting on Tuesday with Department of Water and Environment Regulation officials.

In a meeting in Denmark last week, Mr Kelly addressed the community about plans to run a water pipeline from Albany to Denmark.

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