SAD SIGHT: Emu Creek at the Neereeadah Bridge at the weekend. With well below average November rainfall to date, creeks are at a virtual standstill.
SAD SIGHT: Emu Creek at the Neereeadah Bridge at the weekend. With well below average November rainfall to date, creeks are at a virtual standstill. Tom SOLLARS

Drought bites hard on farming families

FEARS continue to grow that drought conditions may result in Warwick farmers being forced to default on loans, have vehicles and equipment repossessed or lose their properties altogether.

Donna Neale-Arnold of the Rural Financial Counselling Service said she currently had "hundreds" of clients, describing close to a dozen as now being in "desperate" circumstances.

So dire is the situation that food packages are being distributed, including those put together as part of a recent donation project by staff of the Southern Downs Regional Council.

Ms Neale-Arnold said while farming families needed help it could be very difficult for proud, strong people to ask.

"Our service is useful in that we provide free financial counselling and advice - really any financial matters without replacing an accountant or solicitor," she said.

"The service helps drought-affected farmers with Centrelink and loan applications and farm debt mediation.

Ms Neale-Arnold's comments come as the council urges urban households to carefully monitor water use, ruling out tougher domestic restrictions for now.

Of Warwick's dams, SunWater's Leslie Dam is at 33% and the council's much smaller back-up Connolly Dam is at 58%.

Leslie Dam currently has 34,624ML in storage, with 15% of that allocated for urban supplies.

But with downstream irrigators requesting more releases, levels in Leslie Dam could reach the urban tipping point sooner rather than later.

Anyone wanting to contact the Rural Financial Counselling Service can phone Donna Neale-Arnold on 0438 738 693 or go to http://www.rfcsqsw.org.au.

In Bush Telegraph today: Irrigator calls for more Leslie Dam releases.

Permanent restrictions still apply in towns

COUNCIL is urging residents to conserve water while the Southern Downs continues to swelter through a drought.

"Rainfall has been exceptionally low since March and the climate outlook is for well below average rainfall," Southern Downs Regional Council's water and wastewater manager Tendekai Mapeza said.

"In general residents are complying and we thank them for their support, however we don't want residents to become complacent."

Restrictions apply to all towns in the Southern Downs region with a town water supply.

Mr Tendekai said Warwick was well served with both Leslie and Connolly Dams, but permanent water restrictions would continue.

A council spokeswoman said council was aware there was some blue-green algae present in Leslie Dam and some treatment processes were occurring.

"Water Services will be keeping a close eye on the algae and applying the relevant chemical treatment measures," she said.

Long-term average rainfall for Warwick for November: 91.3mm.

Rainfall so far for Warwick, November 2014: 20.8mm

Long-term average maximum for Warwick for November: 27.6 degrees



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