THE water deficiency declaration in Gairdner in the Shire of Jerramungup has officially been revoked after some significant winter rains helped to fill on-farm dams in the area.
Gairdner was originally added to the list of water deficient declared areas in June after two consecutive years of rainfall well below the annual average of 450 millimetres, with just 319mm in 2019 and 294mm in 2018.
Rainfall between June and August provided some relief for farmers, with runoff increasing on-farm dam supplies and off-farm strategic supplies across the then 12, now 11, water deficiency declared areas.
Water carting has been temporarily suspended to all declared areas since early August following an improvement in local water availability.
All farmers registered under the Gairdner water deficiency declaration indicated most of their on-farm dams were now full and they will have adequate livestock drinking water to see them through next summer.
Water Minister Dave Kelly said the Great Southern agricultural region was experiencing the impacts of climate change and unprecedented dry conditions following two years of well-below average annual rainfall.
"While the revocation of the water deficiency declaration to Gairdner is welcome news for locals, farmers across the region continue to be impacted by continued dry conditions as a result of climate change," Mr Kelly said.
"While water carting has been temporarily suspended, we continue to have 11 water deficiency declarations in place.
"The situation at all sites is constantly being reviewed, including the storage levels of on-farm dams and strategic off-farm supplies to determine whether to continue the temporary carting suspension."
The State government has also invested $89,544 in establishing three new bores in the Gairdner area as part of the Dry Season Works Program.
These bores will provide reliable emergency back-up water sources for farmers if future off-farm water carting is required.
Gairdner farmer Ian Peacock said across the whole farm they averaged about 70 millimetres.
"We spent quite a bit of money redoing all the catchments and putting larger catchments on dams over the past two years, so we had everything prepared for when it did rain," Mr Peacock said.
"Most of the smaller dams, between 3000 and 4000 yards, are either full or near enough to it, while the bigger dams are about two thirds full, but they're 10,000 to 15,000 yards, so it takes a lot of water to fill them up."
Three years ago, when the dry started, the Peacocks sold off their cattle and since then have been slowly reducing sheep numbers from 7000 to 1600 head.
"We will have feed and water for them this year and next and hopefully everything being equal those other dams will fill up if we get some run-off rain," Mr Peacock said.
"In our situation, we've got adequate water for this year and even if we don't get run-offs next year, we would probably still have enough water for the following year given that the big dams are probably better now than they have been in the past three years."
Water carting arrangements are managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development DPIRD and the Water Corporation.
In 2019-20, DWER spent $3.36 million carting water to water deficiency declared areas.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said rainfall in August had improved the seasonal outlook for much of the agricultural area.
"However, soil water reserves remain low in many areas with many farm businesses still reliant on further spring rainfall events," Ms MacTiernan said.
"While this is a good localised outcome, we recognise a lot more needs to be done to help WA farmers adapt their businesses to the impacts of climate change - and will continue to advocate for more Federal support on this."
A total of 11 water deficiencies remain in place for the Shires of Ravensthorpe (Mount Short and West River area), Lake Grace (in the Mallee Hill area and Ardler Road area), Kent (Hollands Rock and South Kent), Jerramungup North and Esperance (Grass Patch and Salmon Gums) and Dumbleyung (Kukerin).