Farmers could soon be given access to free water to keep their stock alive.
Dubbo Regional Council deputy mayor Anne Jones has called for farmers relying on tank water to be given free access to the standpipe for drinking water and stock water.
Cr Jones raised it as a matter of urgency at the recent council meeting. She wants the access to be given from July 1 until the end of the drought.
According to the Bureau of Meteorology, for the year-to-date there has been 62.6 millimetres of rain in Dubbo. Almost half of it, 28.6 millimetres, hit the city in January.
The plan for free water was supported by the other councillors and a report will be prepared to see if the decision is viable.
“I personally am a landowner with 400 head of cattle that have been on the road now for six weeks just trying to keep my stock alive. I understand exactly what the residents are going through that are in the agricultural business,” Cr Jones said.
“There are so many farming families that have currently run out of drinking water because it hasn’t rained, their water tanks are not full, dams have dried up. So what we’re saying is we understand, we’re with you, we’re suffering the same pain as you are.”
In the 23 years she has been on council, Cr Jones said she had seen free access given to the standpipe four or five times.
“As soon as we got to the stage where there was no more feed and I started to see some of my neighbouring farming families running out of water I thought ‘we need to address this’,” she said.
“I think the councillors understand that this is the worst drought, in relation to an autumn drought, since 1902 and they were supportive of their community, particularly the farming community.”
She said if council credited the water charges to those in need it would save farmers hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
“Just think about stock that doesn’t have any food, now think about stock that doesn’t have any water. They can survive without food for a certain time but they definitely can’t survive without water. A cow drinks 80 litres of water a day,” Cr Jones said.
When residents get water from the standpipe they are charged an access fee for using the pipe and then for the amount of water they take. Under the proposed plan, council would reimburse those who were found to be eligible.
Cr Jones said she believed free access should be given to anyone who was relying on tank water.
The deputy mayor said she was confident council would proceed with her water proposal. Bathurst Regional Council was already going down the same path, Cr Jones said.