THE shire’s struggling farmers have started capitalising on an opportunity for free water thanks to Gunnedah Shire Council.
Gunnedah’s Steve Lord was one who took advantage of the chance to fill his 13,000-litre truck tank on Monday, after a week-long stress test of the new 50-metre Gunnedah Memorial Pool.
Once testing finished, the council invited interested locals to take their share of the non-potable water.
As part of the ongoing pool renewal project, contractors Hines Construction recently tested the concrete of the new pool by filling it with water.
“We’re down to pretty much no water at all at the moment,” Mr Lord said.
“We have been buying it but now they are giving it away from the pool testing, I decided I would capitialise on that and try and fill some tanks and the dam at my place.”
Mr Lord said the conditions on his Hunts Road property were as bad as he had seen.
“We are running a miniature pony stud and a few head of sheep at the moment,” he said.
“In the drought we are in at the moment with no rain around, we have to try and find whatever water we can from wherever we can.
“I have seen droughts in the past but I have never seen it this bad before.
“In fact at the moment my property does not have a single blade of grass on it.”
Gunnedah mayor Jamie Chaffey said allowing residents access to the water was just one way council is supporting drought affected farmers.
“There is just over two-megalitres available to anyone who needs it,” Cr Chaffey said.
“The times we are having in our community are very dry times at the moment.
“We thought the appropriate thing was to open it up to our community to access that water rather than just pumping it down the storm water drain.”
The Gunnedah mayor said the council had extended the water collection period until Wednesday.
“We were originally hoping to have the cut-off today [Monday] but we have extended that through until Wednesday,” he said.
“It’s certainly trying times in our agricultural sector around the shire and I have been here almost 20 years and I have never seen it this dry.”
Cr Chaffey said the testing of the pool was a success.
“The results have been fantastic,” he said.
“Our project contractors the Hines Group have done a fantastic job so far and there were no leaks which is great and it is certainly time to take the water out so we can move on with the project.”
For more information about collecting water from the Gunnedah Memorial Pool visit www.gunnedah.nsw.gov.au