Managing water supply in challenging conditions

In the current dry conditions, Southern Rural Water is reminding farmers to talk to its staff about water options sooner rather than later.

“Most of our staff live and work in rural communities, and we understand the stresses of dry conditions at a very personal level,” general manager groundwater and rivers, Craig Parker said.

“The most successful tactic in dry times is to not assume it will rain in before your water runs out, and plan for low water supplies before it becomes inevitable.

“As water becomes scarce, services like carting water and building new dams or bores can become more expensive and contractors harder to get. “Planning now may reduce the cost and lost of productivity in dry times.

“We are keen to help as much as we can and we would urge farmers to talk to us about short and long term options well before they run out of water.”

Short term options

Mr Parker said one of the best options for many farmers in the short-term was to consider water trading.

“We have a free online register, Watermatch, for anyone wishing to buy or sell water licences, and we are now actively encouraging those who are not using their water for the summer to consider either a temporary or permanent trade to those who need it,” he said.

“A temporary trade can just be for a single year and means you do not lose your water licence. A permanent trade can provide a good one-off income.

“If you have questions about trading water, one of our field or office staff would be more than happy to talk you through it.”

Mr Parker said staff can also help people find their nearest emergency water supply point.

Longer term

Mr Parker reminded anyone looking at improving longer-term water supply options such as building new dams or bores that they need to discuss licensing requirements with Southern Rural Water first.

“Bore application licences are now available online for a much lower cost, and in most instances can be approved almost instantly if they are for stock and domestic purposes,” he said. “We recommend that anyone looking for groundwater for irrigation purposes call us first to discuss whether water is available in your area, or whether you might need to trade.

“Many new farm dams will also require assessment and a licence, particularly if they are large or if their proposed location might on a waterway. Southern Rural Water staff can do a waterway assessment, which is a free service.

“Our staff are always happy to talk people through the available options.”