Lower Hunter rain doesn't help Upper Hunter, New England and North West region, western NSW and southern NSW in drought

BIG JOB: NSW Drought Coordinator Pip Job with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on a farm in western NSW.
BIG JOB: NSW Drought Coordinator Pip Job with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on a farm in western NSW.

Imagine treating every drop of water as if it was a jewel.

That’s what farmers across the state are doing to try to make the water in their tanks last as long as possible. 

Despite rain in the Lower Hunter over the past week, the Upper Hunter, New England and North West region, western NSW and southern NSW are still waiting for a decent deluge. 

The toilets get flushed once a day, showers are every few days or even once a week, and laundry loads are infrequent.

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One Upper Hunter farmer is even using some of the creek water she has left to wash the family’s clothes so their tank water will last longer. Meanwhile, a lot of farmers in western NSW are carting water to their stock to keep them alive. 

Water is a frequent topic that comes up when Pip Job, the NSW Drought Coordinator, speaks to farmers across the state.

“It is desperately dry, people are making the commitment to feed through winter, and they have been feeding for some time,” Ms Job said.

“Tensions are high, that’s universal across the state, people are experiencing stress and that varies as well, their financial position is a big one. Mental health is another concern.

“A lot of people have had to buy in water, the bit of rain that has fallen in some places hasn’t been enough to fill tanks.

“I’m at Dubbo and we’ve had to order in quite a lot of loads at $400 a pop … that’s a really big issue for farm families.”

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Ms Job said shrinking fodder supplies across the state were also a worry, and western NSW farmers had not recovered from the millennial drought. 

“People are concerned about where fodder and grain is going to keep coming from, because they are already having to source it from interstate,” she said. 

“As soon as you start doing that it comes with incredible freight costs and that financial pressure just continues. I don’t think farmers in western NSW have had a chance to recover from the millennial drought … their ability to deal with drought is hindered.

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