WELCOME DRINK: A leaking water fountain becomes an oasis for birds seeking water in the dry weather.
WELCOME DRINK: A leaking water fountain becomes an oasis for birds seeking water in the dry weather. Paul Donaldson BUN190217DRY1

Bundaberg receives official drought declaration

THE Bundaberg region has been drought declared after a record-breaking February forced the State Government to take much-needed action.

The NewsMail can reveal that Agriculture Minister Bill Byrne signed the approval today and the drought declaration is backdated to March 1.

"In the middle of last week I instructed the department urgently of the Bundaberg Local Drought Committee to urgently convene," he said.

"I am advised the membership of the committee was unable to meet until Thursday when they considered the drought status of the region.

"The committee has recommended that conditions are such that Bundaberg should be declared in drought."

Mr Byrne said it was unusual for the committee to convene outside the normal cycle.

"Under normal circumstances local drought committees meet once a year at the end of the summer rainfall period in April to discuss seasonal conditions including rainfall, availability of pasture and water and assess agricultural and horticultural industries," he said.

"They can also take into account other abnormal factors."

The threshold for a drought declaration is generally once in 10 to 15-year rainfall deficiency.

Last month, Bundaberg experienced its driest February on record with a meagre 1.8mm of rain falling, leaving farmers across our region desperate for water relief.

It was the driest month in more than a century - eclipsing the previous record held for February in 1892 when 2.9mm of rain fell, according to Bureau of Meteorology data.

The Bundaberg region was last drought declared in 2014 and the Queensland Government revoked the drought status for the region in 2015.

The State and Federal Governments offer programs to help farm families, farm businesses and farm communities affected by drought.

These can include a drought relief assistance scheme, additional rural financial counsellors, electricity charges relief for water supply and drought assistance concessional loans scheme.

Visit www.daf.qld.gov.au for more information.

As at February 1 there were a total of 15 councils and four part council areas drought declared, with 91 individually droughted properties in a further 15 council areas.