RUNNING DRY: Results of a survey conducted by BIEDO reveals tough times ahead.
RUNNING DRY: Results of a survey conducted by BIEDO reveals tough times ahead. Alistair Brightman

What does the Boondooma dam cut off really mean?

FARMERS who rely on the Boyne River and Boondooma Dam have alternate water supplies but they are not sufficient to get them through.

That is according to the results of a suvery carried out by Burnett Inland Economc Development Organisation.

The survey was undertaken BIEDO in consultation with the Department of Natural, Resources, Mines and Energy to better understand the situation Boyne River Irrigators are facing.

Over the phone and in person interviews were conducted.

What was looked at in the survey?

  • The volume of water that might be needed this season
  • What alternative arrangements growers have access to
  • What contingencies may be adopted
  • The long term plans are for growers
  • The capacity of growers to invest on farm or within the water supply scheme to achieve more reliable water supplies.

Who was surveyed?

There were 25 respondents to the survey out of a possible 28 active users.

  • One farm has intensive livestock
  • 11 farms have livestock and pasture
  • 11 farms have permanent tree crops
  • Two farms have small crops

Alternative water supplies

There were 18 respondents who indicated that they had access to alternative water supplies on their property.

Alternative water supplies included:

  • Farm dams
  • Bedsands
  • Waterholes
  • Burnett River water

What is the shortfall for irragotors?

  • One grower will have an immediate shortfall of 30 mega litres for the period of September 1 - December 31.
  • This grower has a contingency plan and a small alternative water supply however it is unsuitable for permanent crops.
  • For the period of January 1 2019 - June 30 there is an additional grower with permanent tree plants who will face a shortfall of 190 mega litres.

What are the contingency plans?

There are some irrigators who are already applying or preparing their contingency plan.

Contingency plans include:

  • Reducing cattle numbers
  • Selling cattle early
  • Not planting crops this season
  • Not irrigating
  • Pruning
  • Managing to the conditions

Additional water

If there is an option to continue to access Boondooma Dam water, then the shortfall would be:

  • 760 ML for September 1 to December 31
  • 1020 ML for January 1 to June 30 2019

Long term findings

The preliminary comments include:

  • People generally have alternative water supply or contingency plans for these times
  • People have invested in on-farm dams where the opportunity was provided
  • Some dams have up to two years supply
  • Not everyone has a suitable site for water storage
  • There is an optimistic industry outlook in the horticulture and cattle industries
  • Concerns about reliability of supply leads to uncertainty about future
  • Affects how people invest on farm
  • Increased levels of stress within farming families and the broader community

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