‘Not a drop to drink’

By Grace Jones | posted on March 14, 2019

WATER will be carted to Borden from Mount Barker and Tambellup next month if the area does not receive significant rainfall in the next two weeks.

Residents in Borden received a letter from the Water Corporation on March 8 to make them aware that “due to low rainfall and declining levels in local dams”, the drinking water in Borden would have to be sourced elsewhere.

Borden resident Glenice Davidson said she had been living in the town since 2004 and had never seen similar conditions before.

“Last Thursday we had 22mm of rain which was the first time since late October and early November that we had rain,” she said.

“Our last flooding rain that usually fills the dams was in February 2017 and we have had nothing since.

“It’s quite upsetting when even established old trees are dying, the once beautiful gardens are now gone or dying.

“There doesn’t seem to be any relief coming in the near future for our water troubles.”

The Borden-Ongerup area’s wettest day in the past four months was recorded in February at 21.5mm, with January’s total rainfall only sitting at 2.5mm.

Ms Davidson said the Borden stand pipe where residents had been sourcing water from had been “closed for a few years” which forced people to drive as far as Gnowangerup.

“There are no weeds in the paddocks so local contractors are finding it hard to stay afloat,” she said.

“Most farmers are cleaning dams for the first time in years.

“Most people I’ve spoken to are getting worried by the lack of rain.”

Shire of Gnowangerup CEO Shelley Pike said it was her understanding that it was “quite unusual” for Borden to be so dry in this time of year.

“Different parts of the region have had different seasons,” she said.

“There are pockets across the Great Southern that are struggling.

“Gnowangerup itself is pretty okay but Borden and Ongerup are not in the best positions.”

Ms Pike said the council would be informally looking at their whole water strategy in the coming days.

“There is nothing that could have been done to reduce the impact on Borden,” she said.

“They just need rain.”

Water Corporation Great Southern Regional Manager Adrian Stewart said the state based provider had not trucked water into Borden for at least the past five years.

“The town has around 45 residents and businesses connected to our scheme, and during April their typical daily use is around 25,000 litres a day,” he said.

“The frequency of deliveries will vary according to demand and other operational considerations, ranging from daily to alternate days.

“We routinely monitor our water supply scheme to ensure local storage is sufficient to meet demand.”

Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup President Scott Thompson said his shire was “in a better situation than it was 10 years ago with water”.

“The CBH development in Broomehill brings a lot of water,” he explained.

“It’s very dry though. We had a bit of rain but not enough to put water in the dams.”

Mr Thompson said the dry winter last year coupled with the dry summer this year was causing the damage.

“Usually Borden is alright since it’s nearer to the coast,” he said.

“And usually in January and February we get huge rain events that take the edge off summer but we haven’t had that.

“It has been a very noticeably long dry period.”

Shire of Plantagenet President Chris Pavlovich said his shire was lucky to be connected to Albany’s water supply through a pipeline and was in an area that usually received enough rain.

“In general our shire is doing well and there hasn’t been too much more scheme water usage in the area than in previous years,” he said.

“There is a bit of a shortage of livestock water to the east of the shire but I’m sure the recent rain would have helped fill dams.

“Usually we get storms in summer that helps with the water situation but I guess this year we have a bit more of a Mediterranean weather pattern with dry summers and hopefully wet winters.”