Funding sought to clean out dry dams

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Farmers are calling on the State and Federal governments to consider dollar-for-dollar funding to clean out dams during drought years.

Dams cleaned out when dry, have a greater water holding capacity during the next drought cycle and reduce demand on scheme water supplies for livestock. Supporting the idea are Cambinata Yabbies owners Mary and Michael Nenke, earthmoving contractor Shane Edwards and Dumbleyung Shire President Gordon Davidson.

Mrs Nenke has just cleaned one of their main dams and said many farmers would prefer financial aid to clean out existing dams rather than build new ones.

“If there was dollar-for-dollar funding, the biggest spin off for government is the savings to water supplies during the next drought,” Mrs Nenke said.

The group also said money would be saved on the wear and tear on roads caused by carting water and funding would only be needed during dry years.

For the past three years, Mr Edwards said his Wheatbelt clients had wanted financial assistance.

“It’s a big expense and in tough times, many can’t afford it,” Mr Edwards said.

“But there are thousands of dams out there that are empty and need cleaning that could have a massive water holding capacity and at the moment, that water has to come from somewhere else.”

The proposal raises many complex issues including how it can be policed, tax implications for depreciation of dam assets, future maintenance and possible licensing issues.

Mr Davidson, who has been involved in local government for 20 years said one solution could be for the Water Corporation water audit team to be involved to check dams so funding is spent in the best way, assisting the community.

“If it means there are less trucks on the road and there is more water for other people in the community to use for infrastructure in country towns, it’s a proposal I agree with,” Mr Davidson said.

Dry Seasons Advisory Committee chairman Dexter Davies also agreed with the idea and said it had been well noted.

Mr Davies said it made sense to include ways to mitigate against drought in the assistance package and it would be looked at.

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