Water carters under the pump as farms dry up

Frank Eldridge

Frank Eldridge

COLAC district water carters are feeling the heat, with a lack of rain throughout the region increasing the demand of water.

A rain gauge at Mount Gellibrand, north-east of Colac, has recorded 465 millimetres of rain so far this year, which is the third lowest on record since the Bureau of Meteorology started reporting rainfall at Mount Gellibrand in 2001.

The lowest was in 2006 when the gauge recorded 324.8mm and the second lowest was in 2008 with 429.8mm.

Lucy Richardson from Richardson’s Water Cartage said this year was the busiest she had seen since 2006 and it could be the busiest in the business’s 20 years.

Mrs Richardson said the water carters were delivering an average of 28 to 29 loads of water a day across the region.

She said the business was delivering water to a range of people including farmers and domestic landholders, but a majority of business was coming from the coast.

“We’ve got farmers that are looking for water for stock and we’ve got farmers that are looking for water for simple tasks like running their dairy,” Mrs Richardson said.

“Even if we get the predicted above-average rainfall for January, and I’ve seen that they’re thinking it will keep going to April, it’s going to get pretty desperate for farmers,” she said.

“Dams are dry now and then if we get a little bit of rain it’s not going to fill the dams and the aquifer levels are not going to rise enough for the bores to have flow through them.

“It’s not going to be a short-term-fix problem.”

The Bureau of Meteorology predicts average rainfall for Colac for the next three months.

Eldridge’s Water Sales and Cartage owner Frank Eldridge said people needed to monitor their water levels and make sure they placed orders before tanks hit empty.

Mr Eldridge said the business was delivering seven to nine loads a day but receiving up to 40 inquiries a day.

“People need to be checking their tanks; we’re getting calls from people desperate because they’ve actually ran out,” he said.

“We’re also going to areas that are in fire danger, so you’ve got to actually be mindful of that and consider if they may need it faster.

“People need to be on top of it and know in advance if they’re going to run out.

“It’s not like it usually is; you can’t just call up and expect delivery that day.”

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