Rainfall missed in March

RECORD breaking dry conditions are impacting the region, with rainfall totals well below average for February and the first half of March.
Despite being a grim situation on paper, for farmers with a reliable water supply the dry weather wasn’t a huge concern.
Wooreen beef farmer Jill Forrester said while conditions have been dry for the past month or so, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for this time of year.
“We have been through it all before, as far as I am concerned it is not too bad,” she said.
“We are on hill country, people down on the flat country may feel differently.”
Ms Forrester said the season leading into summer was good, although compared to previous years, it had been drier for longer.
She said she had not run out of feed and because of a creek flowing through their property, running out of water was not something she was worried about.
“Our cattle are in such good condition, we could sell them all as fats if we had to,” she said.
Bureau of Meteorology senior climatologist Blair Trewin said after near-average rainfall in January, much of the region has been dry since the start of February.
“The February totals at Leongatha and Korumburra were 12.6mm and 13.4mm respectively, both only about 20 percent of average,” he said.
“Both towns could be on track to break February-March records for low rainfall (31.6mm in 1923, and 35.4mm in 1997) if it stays dry.”
Agriculture Victoria dairy extension officer David Shambrook said the average rainfall for the region in February over the last 35 years was around 46mm.
“We only had 12mm this year,” he said.
Mr Shambrook said similar dry conditions occurred in the early 2000s, when there was a “run of dry years”.
“The length of time between significant rain events is the worry,” he said.
“It is a concern mainly from the water availability perspective for households and livestock. It is not a real concern as far as pasture growth goes, as long as we get a good rain event by the end of April.”
Korumburra relies on Coalition Creek reservoir for its water, which has missed out of valuable rain this year.
“Rainfall for January and February was around 30 percent below the average for the catchment over these months,” South Gippsland Water managing director Philippe du Plessis said.
“The corporation recognises these dry conditions can continue well into autumn.”
In the past, Korumburra was subject to minor water restrictions in 2013, 2016, 2017 and again in 2018.
The Lance Creek water connection project will secure future water supply for Korumburra and is progressing well.
“South Gippsland Water anticipates this will be the last full summer/autumn period before the new water supplies are available,” Mr du Plessis said.
As one of Korumburra’s biggest water users, Burra Foods will benefit greatly once the project is complete.
“We are very much looking forward to the connection of Korumburra reservoir to Lance Creek during 2018,” Burra Foods CEO Grant Crothers said.
“Meanwhile we will restrict our water usage to an absolute minimum that food safety permits and work closely with South Gippsland Water to minimise our burden on their supply ability.”
Mr Crothers said water availability is often top of mind at this time of year.
“We have an ongoing program to reduce site usage as we recognise our obligation to the Korumburra community to minimise use during the seasonal scarcity,” he said.
Jarrod Richards from South Gippsland Water Delivery based in Foster said he is delivering more water to both households and farms compared to previous years.
He said over the last month and a half, the need for water has picked up.
“It has been busier than last year,” he said.
“People are running out of water later because of the big downpours in December and January, but for this time of year there is a bigger demand for water than there usually is.”
Mr Trewin said the seasonal climate outlook for autumn leans slightly dry, but not significantly so, with a 50 to 60 percent chance of below average rainfall for autumn.
The standout dry late summer-early autumn periods historically were in 1923 and 1997.
“In 1923 dry conditions continued into April. In fact April 1923 is Victoria’s driest month on record, but there was an abrupt shift to wet conditions in May,” Mr Trewin said.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=24603

Posted by on Apr 4 2018. Filed under Rural News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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