Emergency rural water supplies not to be taken for granted
Released 13 Nov 2008
Recent rainfall across the South Western part of the State has improved water storage on many farms and sources of farmland community water, but farmers are still urged to conserve their supplies.
The Department of Water's manager of rural water planning David Hillier said continued sustainable management of supplies was essential to ensure that reserves were available when extended periods of low rainfall were experienced.
"Although water deficiency is not a problem in many areas at the moment, these times won't last," Mr Hillier said.
"A return to lower rainfall conditions is inevitable, and dryland farmers are all too familiar with this scenario. It is important that they recognise the uncertainty that climate change will bring and remain vigilant and plan ahead to curb on-farm shortages.
"In addition, with the warmer and drier summer season almost upon us, the department would like to remind farmers and communities in dryland areas to guard against the inappropriate and excessive use of emergency farmland water supplies.
"We must stress that emergency supplies are for short term crisis use only, after on-farm supplies and other neighbourhood options have been exhausted. They should not be considered a day to day substitute for well managed and maintained on-farm supplies.
"Dryland farming communities can access the existing network of emergency supplies from a mixture of strategically placed dams, tanks and bores linked to surface water catchments or underground aquifers. But these water supplies are available primarily for livestock purposes in an emergency.
Mr Hillier said that while encouraging and supporting the development of selfsupply options remained the primary objective of the rural water planning program, preparing for those times when on-farm supplies fail was an essential function and played a key planning role.
He said that emergency farmland water response planning ensured an orderly response to critical on-farm water supply deficiencies.
It supported the department's aim to safeguard wherever possible, the commercial and lifestyle interests of farming families in dryland areas against the impact of serious water deficiencies.
Thus, the department's close work with dryland agricultural communities and local shires to prepare for dry seasons when low rainfall and limited run-off into farm dams and tanks caused on-farm water supplies to fail.
Mr Hillier warned that taking water from strategic emergency farmland water supplies for non authorised activities, or at times other than in an emergency, may result in access being restricted or closure of the resource.
For more information on emergency water supplies, or on-farm improvements contact the Department of Water's Rural Water Planning Program office on freecall number 1800 780 300 or refer to website www.water.wa.gov.au
Information on emergency farmland water supplies can also be obtained from local shire offices.
Contact: Peter Collins
Phone: (08) 6364 6848 / 0434 603 441