Fairfax Media Network

Weather News

Drought declared in more southern Queensland regions after hot, dry summer

Monday March 13, 2017 - 21:02 EDT
ABC image
Baroon Pocket Dam on the Sunshine Coast is at 45 per cent of capacity. - ABC
ABC licensed image
The land is hot and bone dry at Quilpie in south-western Queensland. - ABC licensed

More than 87 per cent of Queensland is officially in drought, with the driest 12 months ever recorded in the Fraser Coast adding that region to the list amid a warning things could get worse before they get better.



Queensland Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne said the Fraser Coast, Gympie, Cherbourg, Somerset, North and South Burnett, along with the remainder of the Shire of Banana had been officially drought declared.

He said that meant producers in those regions were now eligible for drought assistance, including relief from water and electricity costs.

He said the latest declarations bring the total drought affected area in the state to its highest level ever recorded.

"These latest declarations bring the total area of Queensland where drought is declared to 87.47 per cent," he said.

"That is the highest ever and I am still waiting for some committees to send me their recommendations.



"In fact, the Fraser Coast region had the lowest rainfall in its recorded history over the past 12 months and the overall outlook for the cane industry and other cropping in the Fraser Coast is poor.

"I have been advised that while some parts of south east Queensland have received some patchy storm rainfall over the summer season, good general rainfall across the whole region has not been received."

Mr Byrne said drought committees from other regions would make their recommendations soon and this could push the figure higher.

He said the threshold for a drought declaration was generally a once-in-10- to 15-year rainfall deficiency.

Dire dam situation leaves some without water

The failed wet season has taken a toll on the state's dams.

Sunwater operations general manager Colin Bendell said it was a mixed bag, with some of Sunwater's dams spilling but the majority of 24 water supply schemes drought-declared.



"In a couple of the schemes, customers don't have any access to water at all," he said.

"Those in the worst situation are the Leslie Dam near Warwick, [which] is at 16 per cent, Kroombit dam in the Callide Valley is down to 14 per cent and we think there is only about 60 days' supply left there, but fortunately it is a groundwater recharge dam and it can be recharged from Callide Dam.

"Beardmore, near Kingaroy, is down to 12 per cent so that is quite low as well.

"The Boondooma dam near Kingaroy is currently at 34 per cent [of] capacity, and irrigators have been cut off from access to water, which is restricted to townships and the power station."

Mr Bendall said isolated areas in the north were also struggling, including the Ross River Dam at Townsville, which missed out on rain, along with the Peter Faust Dam at Proserpine.

But he said the Burdekin Fall and Teemburra dams had been spilling for some time and the Julius Dam in western Queensland had been spilling for more than a month.



Crops 'let go' just to conserve water

Farmer Bill Ward grows vegetables at his farm at Aldershot near Maryborough.

He said conditions were the worst he has ever seen.

"There's less than 5 megalitres [in the dam] and normally there's 70 to 80 megalitres," he said.

Mr Ward said they were doing all they could to keep their crops alive.

"With the amount of water we've got left, all we can do is basically concentrate on crops that can bring us in the most amount of money. We let the others go just to conserve water."

The family is planning to dig a bore on the property, but there was not much more they can do.

"Your hands and feet are tied well and truly. If Mother Nature decides to have a crack at you, you're going to cop it."

Coastal rain expected later this week

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster James Thompson said there was some relief in sight with rain expected along the coastal fringe south of Fraser Island later this week, but the situation remained dire further west.

"A lot of people probably are looking for rain, the seasonal outlook in the western parts probably isn't good news but along the coastal fringe there is the chance of exceeding median rainfall. We could see in excess of 100 millimetres on the coastal fringe, south of Fraser Island, later this week," he said.

"The seasonal outlook, which is March to May, is below average in the western parts of Queensland, especially in the south, but towards the coast we're looking at about average conditions."

The Queensland Farmers Federation is offering to them in their local areas.


- ABC

© ABC 2017

More breaking news

Sydney Morning Herald
ABC News
National Nine News
News Limited

Display Your Local Weather

Weather News

Cyclone Debbie downgraded to category two system

20:29 EDT

The full devastation brought on by Tropical Cyclone Debbie will not be known until the morning, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has warned, as the system is further downgraded to a category two.

Cyclone Debbie hits north Queensland coast bringing winds of 260kph, BOM says

20:24 EDT

Cyclone Debbie has been downgraded to a category two system after crossing the north Queensland coast.

Cyclone Debbie damage could cost billions, warns Insurance Council

19:57 EDT

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) has declared Cyclone Debbie a catastrophe and warned that, while there is no estimate of a damage bill yet, previous cyclones have cost billions of dollars.