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Covering the Central Highlands
Central West Queensland

Business & Rural

19 November, 2020

CQ farmers face devastation if no significant rainfall by Christmas

By Mel Frykberg

THE FESTIVE season is gearing up to be a bleak and desperate time for Queensland farmers as water levels in the Fairbairn Dam drop to 8.75 percent - the lowest level ever since the dam was built in the 1970s.

Fairbairn Dam feeds water to the Emerald Irrigation Scheme and to the Nogoa McKenzie dam.

“The situation is devastating,” said Neville Crook, a consultant at BM Agribiz.

“Permanent crop growers are going to struggle to produce crops due to the water shortage,” added Crook who also owns a cattle farm and used to farm grapes and cotton.

“I’ve lived here for thirty years and the irrigation situation is extremely serious,” said Crook.

“We are in the fourth year of a serious drought. During the first three years of a drought it is possible to rely on dwindling water reserves but by the fourth year water supplies are significantly reduced.”

While previous floods in parts of Queensland such as Townsville delivered a deluge of water the run-offs have already evaporated and haven’t brought the necessary long-term relief.

“In addition to facing severe economic losses due to the possible failure of crops, the price of water has sky rocketed with desperate farmers forced to pay astronomical prices for dwindling water supplies” said Crook.

The rainfall year runs from July 1 to June 30 of each year.

During that period farmers, towns and mines buy water capacity rights to Fairbairn Dam.

To read the full article, please pick up a copy of this week's Highlands Leader, available from Friday.

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