Leyburn farmer Tammy Parrant is doing everything she can to keep a small herd of goats and cattle alive so she can rebuild her livelihood after drought.
Leyburn farmer Tammy Parrant is doing everything she can to keep a small herd of goats and cattle alive so she can rebuild her livelihood after drought. Contributed

FARMER OUTRAGE: Council water rules spark fear, confusion

RURAL farmers trying desperately to keep the last of their stock alive have expressed outrage at being told to buy commercial non-potable water while town residents pour drinking water on gardens just to "keep things green”.

"We are getting kicked in the guts,” Leyburn farmer Tammy Parrant said.

Her anger comes after rural residents were given a confusing message about how they could use high-priority water drawn from Warwick's urban system.

On Tuesday, Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie told the Warwick Daily News urban water carted to residents on rural properties was for domestic purposes.

"It is about making sure the water is used for the purpose it is stored for, which is domestic use," the mayor said.

"If you buy council water you need to abide by the high-level water restrictions that are currently in place.”

But current SDRC water restrictions do not actually prohibit rural landowners from giving urban water to their animals.

According to council restrictions, "outdoor use” is allowed between 6pm and 7pm on certain days.

"At the end of the day an individual makes a personal decision about what they are going to do,” the mayor said when pressed on the issue.

Ms Parrant said the council was "dancing around” a contentious issue and "ignoring” rural residents.

Leyburn farmer Tammy Parrant is trying to keep a few precious animals alive.
Leyburn farmer Tammy Parrant is trying to keep a few precious animals alive. Contributed

She said it was unfair to ask farmers to cart non-potable water when people in town could use reticulated water on gardens.

"I am paying for this water. What right does anyone have to tell me what I can do with it?” she said.

"If someone out there in Warwick is watering their plants to make them look green, and I can't give my living, breathing animals a drink, that is bullsh-t.”

Cr Dobie said there was "plenty of water” available for stock.

"There are trucks travelling in our region every day to deliver water for agriculture,” the mayor said.

But Ms Parrant tried to find a carrier that would deliver non-potable water and said there were none in the Southern Downs.

"When we look outside the region our cartage rates go up incredibly and the regions surrounding us are just as much in drought as we are,” she said.

The mayor called for water to be used and distributed equitably.

"Residents who live in town have to pay an access fee and they also pay per litre for that water. Rural residents are not in that situation,” she said.

But Mr Parant said the cost of carting water was extremely high, up to $700 to fill a 12,000L tank.

Tammy Parrant's dam has run totally dry since this photo was taken.
Tammy Parrant's dam has run totally dry since this photo was taken. Contributed

She said "paying through the nose” for water forced her and other rural residents to be extremely conservative.

"I would like to see people in the city use as little as we do,” she said.

"We do not waste a drop.”

Despite the cost, keeping 30 goats and 4 head of cattle alive is the only hope Ms Parrant has for saving precious bloodlines and rebuilding a life after the drought.

"My animals will get water no matter what I have to do,” she said.

The mayor said new water restrictions and a contingency plan would be announced at a special council meeting on Wednesday and asked residents to be patient.

"We are in an extremely difficult time,” she said.



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