Tim Scheele, Bevan Bird and Andrea Collett watched Southern Downs councillors pass a motion to move to extreme water restrictions in a meeting yesterday.
Tim Scheele, Bevan Bird and Andrea Collett watched Southern Downs councillors pass a motion to move to extreme water restrictions in a meeting yesterday. Marian Faa

Farmers caught in political stoush as animal water runs out

RURAL residents who fear for their livestock are caught in the middle of a clash between state and local politicians over who is responsible for providing water for agricultural purposes.

For the past two weeks, farmers have reportedly been unable to source water for animals within the Southern Downs after commercial carters were told council-owned water was only for domestic tanks.

Braeside producer Bevan Bird was previously buying drinking water to put in his dam because he "could not get anything else".

"They don't sell recycled water anywhere that I can find," he said.

Deputy Mayor Jo McNally said water for agriculture and livestock was an issue for the State Government to resolve.

"Council is responsible for providing water in the urban area, that is our priority," she said.

"We are still going to give water to residents in the rural area for them to drink but moving forward, animals are a State Government responsibility."

Southern Downs MP Lister urged Tracy Dobie to make council water available for livestock.
Southern Downs MP Lister urged Tracy Dobie to make council water available for livestock. Marian Faa

Southern Downs MP James Lister asked the council to reverse a "ban on watering horses and livestock" earlier this week.

He also bid local politicians to make untreated water available for animals.

"People are at their wit's end and I'll now be working directly with communities to try to solve their stock water problems," he said.

Mr Lister has not outlined specific plans to help rural residents.

Cr McNally said the State Government had not stepped up to its responsibility.

Cattle yarding numbers at the Warwick Sale Yards have hit record highs in recent weeks as farmers look to de-stock.
Cattle yarding numbers at the Warwick Sale Yards have hit record highs in recent weeks as farmers look to de-stock. Marian Faa

"We need solutions from the State Government moving forward," Cr McNally said.

CEO David Keenan said the council asked Mr Lister to lobby for guidelines regarding recycled water to be changed at a State Government level so it could be sold for livestock purposes.

But for some animals, it is too late.

Mr Bird said cattle had been dying in muddy dams, trying to get a drink.

Other wildlife like turtles, kangaroos and birds have been adding pressure to open water sources.

"There is no water anywhere else so everything is drinking my water. I am a haven to them as well," Mr Bird said.



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