Ten areas now declared water deficient after two-year dry

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Jenne BrammerThe West Australian
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Dams across the Great Southern have run dry
Camera IconDams across the Great Southern have run dry Credit: Laurie Benson

Water Minister Dave Kelly has declared an unprecedented tenth WA area water deficient, while describing the Great Southern one of the most hardest hit places on the planet by reduced rainfall from climate change.

Mr Kelly declared Salmon Gums, in the Shire of Esperance, as water deficient at the weekend, while indicating there was likely to be more such declarations to come.

A water deficiency declaration means the State Government will cart water to the area as an emergency supply for livestock. Declarations are made as a last resort after continued dry conditions have depleted on farm and local community water supplies.

The other nine areas to be declared water deficient in the past 10 months include areas within the Shires of Ravensthorpe, Lake Grace, Kent, Jerramungup, Esperance, and Dumbleyung.

“The Great Southern agricultural region is experiencing unprecedented dry conditions following two years of well below average annual rainfall,” Mr Kelly said.

“The 10 concurrent water deficiencies now in place across the region emphasises that the Great Southern agricultural region is one of the most impacted places on the planet for reduced rainfall due to climate change.”

Dams across the great southern are dry or virtually dry, meaning water is being carted for livestock. This dam was pictured at Many Peaks.
Camera IconDams across the great southern are dry or virtually dry, meaning water is being carted for livestock. This dam was pictured at Many Peaks. Credit: Laurie Benson

According to rainfall figures from the Bureau of Meteorology’s Salmon Gums Station, 2019 was the third driest year on record.

Mr Kelly said never before had there been such high demand for water carting in the State, with the cost of carting water for both public drinking and animal welfare needs estimated at more than $4 million since January 2019.

In the past 12 months the State Government has invested more than $1.5 million in 34 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 work through the new Future Drought Fund.

Although much of the State received welcome rain in the past two weeks, not enough reached the parched Great Southern to alleviate excessively dry conditions, Mr Kelly said.

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