STATE Water Minister Dave Kelly declared further water deficiencies in two shires in the State's Great Southern and Wheatbelt last week.
Water carting has started in the Kukerin area of Dumbleyung Shire and The Hamilton's area in Kent Shire, giving affected farmers access to emergency water supplies for animal welfare needs.
The official declaration followed separate applications from The Dumbleyung Shire, on behalf of 25 local farmers and in the Kent shire on behalf of 13 local farmers.
The declaration will see the State government cart an estimated 2400 kilolitres of water each week for the Kukerin area and 1600kL per week for the Hamilton's area from Dumbleyung, Katanning, Broomehill-Tambellup and Kulin shires.
Water will be delivered to a series of 75,000 litre capacity portable tanks in Kukerin and a new 250,000L capacity tank at Hamilton's dam, reducing the distance farmers need to travel to source emergency livestock water.
Water carting arrangements are being managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER), with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and the Water Corporation.
These are the eighth and ninth water deficiencies respectively to be declared in Western Australia since May 2019, as dry conditions continue in the south-west of the State.
Water deficiencies have also been declared in the shires of Ravensthorpe, Lake Grace (in the Mallee Hill area and Ardler Road area), Kent, Jerramungup North and Esperance (Grass Patch), Jerramungup and Ravensthorpe (Jacup to West River area).
A declaration is made as a last resort after continued dry conditions have depleted on-farm and local community water supplies.
DWER is liaising with local government authorities and farmers in other dryland areas to monitor their on-farm water storage and requirements.
The department is encouraging farmers to continue to return their farm water surveys and local government authorities to consider Community Water Supply Program grant applications in areas of need.
Mr Kelly said the Great Southern agricultural region was experiencing unprecedented dry conditions following two years of well below average annual rainfall.
"We now have nine water deficiency declarations and the possibility of more to come," Mr Kelly said.
"According to rainfall figures from the Bureau of Meteorology's Kukerin station, 2019 (218.6 millimetres) was the third driest year on record.
"In the past two years the Hamilton's area (South Pingrup) has received 62 per cent less rain than the long-term average for the area (354.6mm).
"The south-west of Western Australia is one of the most impacted places on the planet for reduced rainfall due to climate change.
"The nine concurrent water deficiencies now in place across the region emphasises this fact.
"In the past 12 months the State government has invested more than $1.5 million in 34 projects designed to improve community water supplies, including work on dams, catchments and bores.
"The State is calling on the Federal government to support an expansion of this important work through the new Future Drought Fund.
"We have never before seen such a high demand for water carting in the State, with the cost of carting water for both public drinking and animal welfare needs estimated at more than $4 million since January 2019."
The State government anticipates that the cost of carting water will reach $11m by June 2020.
WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said "persistent dry seasonal conditions had created a challenging environment for farming businesses throughout the agricultural region, particularly in the south-east".
"These water deficiency measures help provide water to meet livestock needs and we continue to work with industry and landholders including providing timely information and advice to support stock welfare and land management," Ms MacTiernan said.