Water Corporation is having to cart water to town tanks, standpipes and other storages to Western Australian communities impacted by little to no rainfall in recent months due to climate change.
Water Corporation is carting about 11 million litres of drinking water each week to Cranbrook, Grass Patch, Hyden, Lake King, Varley, Rocky Gully, Wellstead, Salmon Gums, Ravensthorpe and Walpole.
With dry conditions forecast to continue, it is expected water carting may be needed in other towns, including Jerramungup, Ongerup, Frankland and Borden by the end of March.
Water Corporation is also carting water, on behalf of the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), to six areas declared water deficient for animal welfare needs.
Approximately 250 tanker movements are carting water each week for town water supplies and water-deficient areas.
With little rainfall in the region for several months, some on-farm dams are at low levels or empty. This has resulted in property owners becoming increasingly reliant on standpipes connected to Water Corporation schemes, and this extra demand has made carting necessary over the last six months.
The unprecedented dry spell has seen many areas receiving little rain. For example, the water supply catchment in Jerramungup has only had two rainfall events of about 25 to 30mm since the last storm event in January 2017. While the Grass Patch area in the Goldfields-Esperance region recorded its driest year on record last year with just 172mm of rain – less than half the yearly average.
The total cost of carting to the schemes and to water-deficient areas since January 2019 is estimated to be over $4 million, and without any substantial rain, could potentially exceed $11 million by the end of June 2020 due to growing demand.
Water Minister, Dave Kelly, said, “There is no doubt many regional communities are doing it tough, with some areas experiencing record-low rainfall and dwindling on-farm water supplies.
“I’d like to thank the Water Corporation for the incredible effort its team is putting in to keep the water flowing across the region, and DWER and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for their support to farming communities.”
Mr Kelly urges householders, farmers and small businesses in these communities to be careful with their water use.
“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 said.
“I urge community members to please only take as much water from standpipes as they need for their weekly needs.
“I also urge members of the farming community to complete the farm water surveys which have been 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.”