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Water carters working seven days a week in Queensland to keep acreage property tanks topped up

By Tom Forbes, Wednesday August 8, 2018 - 08:44 EST
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Water delivery business owner Kelvin Slade is working seven days a week to keep up with demand. - ABC

The drought is affecting more than farmers, with acreage property owners in Queensland trucking in thousands of litres of water to keep their households running.

Andrew McCabe has lived in Tamborine, a hinterland town 40 kilometres west of the Gold Coast, for seven years, and relies on rainwater that he collects and stores in a 30,000 litre tank.

"This is the first time we've ever had to buy water," he said.

"We haven't had a decent fall of rain since early in the year."

Bureau of Meteorology statistics show a dramatic decrease in rainfall at Tamborine Mountain in recent months.

The annual three-month average from May to July, based on records dating back to 1888, is 300 millimetres — but that has dropped this year with an average of 74 millimetres falling across the region during the same period.

Mr McCabe paid almost $200 for 12,000 litres of water last week and said that he expects it to last him a for a few months.

"It's everything you're using it for — your toilets, shower, washing machine," he said.

"Fortunately we have the grey water so that thankfully gives the garden a bit of a drink.

"It seems a bit contrite for us to talk about it in light of what's happening in other parts of Queensland, and certainly New South Wales, but you know it's a fact that that shortage of rain has impacts on everyone."

Maurice Cullen runs water cartage business Pony Express Mountain Water, based at Tamborine and said he had been busy.

"I believe the dry period has started earlier [this year]," he said.

"We've been doing it for 25 years and the best month we ever have, every year, is September and we're not even there yet."

The owner of said it is not a crisis and his current busy workload will dry up as soon as there is heavy rain.

Whitsunday region

In north Queensland almost 90 per cent of the Whitsunday region is drought-declared.

Kelvin Slade operates a water cartage business at Proserpine and said he is working seven days a week.

"We're doing anything from seven to 10 [deliveries] per day — that's pretty much all we can do in the hours we're allowed to drive," he said.

Mr Slade buys water from the Whitsunday Regional Council and on-sells it to property owners.

He charges between $180 and $290 for 12,000 litres of water, depending on the distances he needs to travel.

One of his clients has bought almost 100,000 litres in the past fortnight.

"I've done him eight times in the past two weeks," Mr Slade said.

"He's got a very big property where he's got big problems with water.

"We had a wet season, but not a normal wet season — it wasn't as wet as it normally is and we've had no follow-on rain from the wet season."

The owner of KVS Cartage said that he expects it will get busier in the coming weeks.

"Most of mine are all regulars, I just can't take on any new people at the moment, you know I've got to look after the guys that look after me," he said.


© ABC 2018

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