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Bega Valley farmers rejoice as record downpour fills dams, raises hopes for La Nina

By Claire Wheaton and Joshua Becker, Wednesday July 29, 2020 - 17:08 EST
ABC image
Candelo dairy farmer Tom Otten says the rains came just in time. - ABC

Drought-stricken farmers are celebrating after heavy rains across south-east New South Wales have transformed landscapes and fortunes.



The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said several rain records had been broken thanks to two consecutive lows off the east coast in recent weeks.

BOM climatologist Agata Imielska said much of the South Coast of NSW recorded more than four times the July average rain.

"Bega had very significant rainfall — recording 299.4 millimetres of rain which is the wettest July since 1922," she said.

"Moruya received 137mm in 24 hours which is a July record for daily rainfall in 65 years," she said.

"We've also seen some significant three-day rainfall totals — Narooma recorded 190mm and Brogo recorded 231mm — both creating new records."

Ms Imielska said wetter than average conditions were expected for August and heading into spring as well.

"So we're likely to see some more rainfall in the months to come," she said.

She said the rain had increased hopes of a La Nina weather event this year, which would typically result in increased rainfall across much of Australia.

"We're quite close to heading into a La Nina alert, which means that we will have more than 70 per cent chance of a La Nina developing," Ms Imielska said.

Fortunes change as dams fill up

The recent widespread rain has transformed the landscape and farmers' fortunes across the south-east corner of NSW.



Dams are full for the first time in years and rivers and creeks are overflowing.

Tim Collins runs Angus cattle at Candelo in the Bega Valley and described the recent rain as drought-breaking.

"We've had 135 mils since Saturday, so we're up to 240mm for the month," he said.

"I mean this is fantastic, our dams are absolutely brimful and flowing over and I honestly can't remember the last time I saw that.

"You have got to call it a break in the drought…this is follow-up rain and it certainly is a massive change, heading towards a break."

Candelo dairy farmer, Tom Otten, said he was almost out of water on his farm.

"You would never expect to be on the verge of running out of stock and irrigation water in July in the Bega Valley", he said.

"But we were watching the levels closely and we probably only had two weeks before we were cut off completely.

"To get rain at this time of the year is just magic."


- ABC

© ABC 2020

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