Manjimup growers back from brink, for now

Claire TyrrellCountryman

Weekend rains revived Manjimup's horticultural district from the brink of drying up, after dams were at their lowest levels since 2010.

Harvey Giblett, owner of Manjimup's largest apple grower, Newton Brothers, said rains filled his dams up to about a third capacity.

"The dams are quite low, but we had some good rains over the weekend," he said.

"We had 45mm from Sunday morning until Tuesday, which was fantastic."

Mr Giblett said despite recent rains, it was still the driest year he had experienced.

"2010 was the driest year I have experienced and to date this year is worse," he said.

"Now it is a matter of the last of winter and getting a wet spring."

Mr Giblett said he was pumping water from his neighbours' properties and would not rule out buying water if he needed to.

"We are pumping water into our dams on a 24-hour basis, from nearby creeks and catchments," Mr Giblett said.

"We need our dams to be half full to keep us going for harvest."

Nearby avocado grower Wayne Franceschi's property received 100mm at the weekend, after his driest July on record.

"Our dams are a whole lot better after the weekend," he said. "We had more rain on Saturday and Sunday than we did for the whole of July."

Manjimup's average annual rainfall exceeds 1000mm and so far in 2012, just 325mm has fallen in the district.

In July, 42mm of rain was recorded in Manjimup, 132mm short of the region's long-term July average.

WA Water Minister Bill Marmion introduced water efficiency measures for the Manjimup town site last week, after supplies were dangerously low.

"A persistent drying climate has meant dam levels have dropped to 28 per cent, or just 529 million litres," he said.

"This is well below the annual demand for water in the area, which is about 700 million litres."

Mr Marmion implemented a range of water-saving measures to scheme water users, including full sprinkler bans.

The measures were introduced ahead of the Water Corporation's efficiency program, planned for October.

Mr Marmion said the program would include a behavioural change project and appliance retrofits.

Water Corporation also plans to complete a pipeline to connect Manjimup to the Bridgetown Regional Scheme by spring 2013.

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