Thursday, 10 February 2011 12:05

Scramble for precious water in WA

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SOME 2200 megalitres of water might seem only a drop in the ocean for flood weary farmers in northern and eastern Australia but in the drought-stricken west every bit of a new allocation will be precious.


Dairy farmers in WA are expected to lead the scramble when the additional water being made available from Logue Brooke dam goes up for auction on February 8.Supply cooperative Harvey Water and the WA Water Corporation have reached a deal to make the additional water available on a temporary 12 months basis after strong interest in an earlier auction of 5300 megalitres.

Harvey Water general manager Geoff Calder says the new allocation available for use in the July 2011 to June 2012 irrigation year will be keenly sought and attract premium prices.“We are likely to see prices of $60 to $80 a megalitre, whereas previously the average has been around $15 to $20,” Calder says.

“The auction has been set up so farmers will be able to bid for small lots to suit their needs. We had 57 buyers at the last auction and there was still unmet demand.”The five storages used by Harvey Water are holding only around 30% capacity and severe restrictions on water allocations are in place.

“Farmers have been given advice on how to make every drop count. This ranges from saving their allocation during the hot summer months when evaporation levels are high to cranking up production in their best performing paddocks.

”Calder says dairy farmers in the west are leading the way with water conservation with widespread adoption of efficient pivot irrigators.His advice for farmers when they have used up their bonus water allocation?“Pray for rain,” he says.

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