THE State government has recognised the serious water shortage issue facing parts of the south east of the State by declaring the Ravensthorpe Shire water deficient this week.
The announcement came from Water Minister Dave Kelly on Tuesday who said government departments would cart water to farmers to protect animal welfare in the affected area.
The official declaration follows an application from the Shire, on behalf of farmers in Mount Short.
Andy Chambers farms near Mount Short and said it was disappointing that they applied three times before the declaration was made.
"We have put the application together numerous times and the first time was on December 14," Mr Chambers said.
"We could see this situation unfolding back then and knew it was not going to be good unless we received substantial rain.
"We thought last year was dry, but this year we have only had 22mm for the year.
"At the same time last year we had received 80mm."
An application for a Water Deficiency Declaration will be approved if it is found that five or six farmers or more in a localised area are travelling more than 40 kilometres in one direction to cart water or are likely to do so within 14 days.
Under the Ravensthorpe declaration, the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) will cart water to a tank in Mount Short to reduce the distance that local farmers have to travel to source emergency water for their livestock.
The State government maintains an extensive network of community water supplies across the State that are accessible to farmers in times when on-farm water supplies are low.
A declaration is a last resort after all available community water supplies have been exhausted.
Water carting arrangements are being managed by DWER with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Water Corporation.
Mr Kelly said climate change had contributed to low winter rainfall and no follow up summer rainfall, particularly in the mid-northern region of the Shire of Ravensthorpe.
"Water carting to the area will begin tomorrow (Wednesday) and affected farmers are being notified directly on where to collect their supplies," Mr Kelly said.
"These water supplies are for emergency use at times when low rainfall causes on-farm supplies to fail and forces farmers to travel longer distances to collect water for livestock.
"The State government works closely with shires and farmers impacted by low rainfall due to climate change to identify new source opportunities and ensure existing sources are accessible."
Mr Chambers said while the declaration would be welcomed by livestock farmers there was still an issue with spray water in the area.
"People are running into that problem now, they are fast running out of good, clean water for spraying," he said.
"We have been pumping water out of the dams that still have a bit of water in them for spraying but they are pretty low and we are pumping down to the mud.
"We are seeing issues with spraying with that water in terms of having filters blocked and so on and unless we get that good rain things are going to get worse."
DWER is liaising with local shires and farmers on their water requirements in other affected areas, advising on the best community water supplies available.
DWER is also supporting and encouraging Community Water Supply Program grant applications in areas of need.