In 46 degree heat laying poly water pipes to keep water supplies up to stock, it came as some relief to Rick Taylor, Glen Hope, White Cliffs, to hear a new $12 million water infrastructure rebate scheme will kick off on Monday.
Farmers can access the scheme, with a rebate of up to 25 per cent of their emergency water infrastructure costs, to a maximum of $25,000, through the NSW Rural Assistance Authority.
It comes as great relief to many who have seen all of their fresh water supplies dry up and are now relying on bore water for stock.
Mr Taylor is in the middle of laying 10 kilometres of pipeline, an expensive operation he is doing with just one other person, that requires fittings and has to be dug underground because the pipes will be damaged by the sun or being run over.
He’s managed to source a welder, which has saved costs. He’s also put in a Saltfree desalination plant that cost him $10,000, but $30,000 all-up with new tanks and piping.
The benefits to his house, potable water and way of life have been amazing - his fruit trees are alive, he has a green garden around the homestead and he’s seen salty, brackish bore water reduced from 4500 parts per million salt content to 100-200ppm.
He runs a Merino/Dohne flock, which can take the brackish bore water, but he needs reticulation, as the freshwater dams have run dry, and he needs to get water to stock in the hot dry summer rather than stock to water. He also faces repairing one bore.
Nearby, his friend Lachlan Gall, Langawirra and Coogee Lake Station, has been busy de-silting a large 11 metre, 26 megalitre capacity dam, using two loaders.
It’s costing him as much as $22,350 in contract costs. He’s also brought in $21,000 in poly piping to run water to stock.
A short time ago he had just six weeks of fresh water left, then a storm dumped water right into a dam he’d just finished, giving him six months breathing space. Both farmers are happy the rebate will help with the financial load of keeping water infrastructure up to date.
Mr Gall, president of the Pastoralists’ Association of the West Darling, said PAWD had been instrumental in asking for the emergency water rebate relief scheme.
“Many properties have run out of surface water supplies altogether,” he said.
“This presents an opportunity to de-silt and deepen excavated earth tanks, which has been occurring over a widespread area for the last 12 months. Water supplies are critically low in the far west of NSW, on the back of extremely dry conditions throughout the region since September, 2016. At the same time, water is still required for stock and domestic use, so drilling rigs are very busy drilling new bores in the area. These bores are in many cases being equipped with solar pumping systems. Pipelines are being laid to deliver water to where it's needed, and desalinators are being installed to make salty bore water suitable for stock and domestic use.
“Between cleaning out dams in preparation for the break of the drought and making alternative arrangements as existing water supplies run out, expenditure on water infrastructure is proceeding on an unprecedented scale in the far west of the state. The on-Farm Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme will of great assistance to pastoralists, who in many cases are also incurring large costs purchasing feed to keep core breeding livestock alive. However, backdating the commencement of the scheme to July 2018 will not capture expenditure incurred when investment in water infrastructure ramped up early last year.
“The Pastoralists Association of West Darling has been lobbying State and Commonwealth for the introduction of an Emergency Water Infrastructure Rebate scheme since May last year, and is delighted that it has been introduced in NSW. The scheme will generate jobs for drilling and earthmoving contractors, and cashflow for water equipment manufacturers and suppliers. The Association would like to see the scheme adopted nationally, so all farming families right across Australia are eligible for this incentive to improve their water security.”
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said this rebate would help farmers improve drought resilience.
“New water infrastructure will also make farmers more productive after the drought breaks,” he said.
NSW Nationals Deputy Leader and Water Minister Niall Blair said farmers were still doing it tough, but the Party would continue to stand by them every step of the way.
“This rebate will help farmers in NSW struggling with drought to manage through this exceptionally dry period and be better prepared for future drought events,” Mr Blair said.
“Water plays a pivotal role in the regional prosperity and long-term growth of our communities. Our focus now is on future-proofing the state. That’s why we’re funding urgently-needed works that allow farmers to claim up to 25 per cent of expenses associated with new purchases and installation of new on-farm water infrastructure up to a maximum of $25,000 that will help them now and most importantly, equip them into the future.”