Tackling water shortages

01 Mar, 2016 12:00 PM
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On our farm it’s bone dry. No grass, no water.

DAIRY farmers came together last week to discuss the ongoing challenge of dry conditions in the Inverloch, Vic, area.

More than 40 people spent an evening at the Inverloch Community Hub, working out ways to tackle the water shortage and how to bounce back once decent rainfall returns to the district.

The first GippsDairy 'Tactics for Dry Times’ meeting in mid-December resulted in 18 desperate dairyfarmers accessing an unused water storage to pipe supplies onto their farms.

The Inverloch Cluster was a collaborative effort between various stakeholders that meant farmers like Inverloch’s Jamie Nicholls experience some relief from the dry conditions.

“We all went to that meeting and none of us had any solutions,” he said.

“On our farm it’s bone dry. No grass, no water. We’ve been there 29 years and it’s never been like this before.

”We’ve ended up with very little water before, but that’s been in April/May – not October”

“You can buy hay in, but you can’t buy water in.”

The Nicholls’ farm received its first flow from a pipeline that involves four pumps and more than 14km of high grade, 90mm diameter poly pipe.

Getting the water from the disused Inverloch water basin cost farmers more than $140,000 before the pumps were even turned on.

On top of that, more than 900 hours of labour were required to lay and join the pipe.

But for Jamie Nicholls and other farmers, the outcome of that December meeting - and a lot of subsequent hard work - has allowed them to keep their heads above water.

GippsDairy projects and events co-ordinator Karen Romano said the first Inverloch ‘Dry Times’ meeting has resulted in an unprecedented level of co-operation and goodwill between farmers and various stakeholders.

“We had farmers literally putting this pipe together over the summer months and it they did it all in good spirits,” she said.

“We also had South Gippsland Water, Southern Rural Water, Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires as well as DEDTJR (the Department of Economic Development, Transport, Jobs and Resources) and GippsDairy helping the farmers to access a water supply that has made a huge difference to them.

“GippsDairy and Dairy Australia fund these Dry Times events across the region using dairy service levy funds and we couldn’t have seen money better spent than the Inverloch meeting and what has been achieved from it.”

The latest meeting was also supported by ‘Look Over the Farm Gate’ program which is funded by the Victorian Farmers Federation, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Country Women’s Association, Country Fire Authority, National Centre for Farmer Health and GippsDairy to support the social and emotional wellbeing of the community in rural areas during a tough season.

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