What you need to know as Ipswich region is drought declared

A LACK of summer rainfall has resulted in the Ipswich local government area being drought declared for the first time since 2014. 

Ipswich was one of nine areas declared by the State Government, taking the total area of Queensland drought-declared to 65.2 per cent. 

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner accepted the recommendations of local drought committees to drought declare further areas, with serious concerns about pasture growth and water supplies.

"The local drought committees from the central, southern and southeast Queensland regions have met and assessed the seasonal conditions from April 2018 to March 2019," Mr Furner said.

"These areas saw significantly-below average rainfall over the last year, and the rainfall they did receive had little impact on breaking the ongoing drought."

Dam levels 

The dam capacity of the SEQ Water Grid is 70 per cent, which is a 0.3 per cent increase from April 18, 2019.

Wivenhoe Dam, the largest on the southeast water grid, is 58 per cent full with 679,251 ML available. 

Somerset is at 77 per cent capacity with 294,432 ML. 

For the fortnight to April 24, southeast Queensland used on average 806 ML each day.

The average residential use per person was 160L per day. 

Water restrictions 

According to SEQ Water the southeast Queensland Drought Response Plan introduces mandatory region-wide water restrictions when the combined level of our drinking water dams reach 50 per cent capacity.

With the availability of the SEQ Water Grid, the earliest region-wide water restrictions would be required, as of February 2019, is April 2020.

If mandatory water restrictions are introduced at 50 per cent, they will be in place across the entire southeast Queensland region and ask residents to target 140L of water per person, per day.

In early April Seqwater chief executive officer Neil Brennan said dam levels were the lowest they've been since February 2010.

"We have started a community education campaign across the region to encourage water wise behaviour such as checking household plumbing for leaks, not watering in the heat of the day and remembering to use pool covers," he said. 

"By working with the community and carefully managing our water supply we can help delay and even potentially avoid the need for mandatory water restrictions."

The Bureau of Meteorology El Niño outlook remains on alert, with a likely forecast of warm and dry conditions continuing in 2019.

Seqwater will continue to closely monitor weather forecasts, catchment conditions and dam levels, and operate the Water Grid as required to best manage the region's water supply.

DROUGHT STATUS: Minister for Agricultural Industry Development Mark Furner has reintroduced the Southern Downs' drought-declared status.
Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner has drought declared nine areas. Tahlia Stehbens

The new drought-declared areas

Ipswich Regional Council

The remainder of Western Downs Regional Council

Scenic Rim Regional Council

The remainder of Banana Regional Council

Gladstone Regional Council

Rockhampton Regional Council 

Livingstone Shire

The southern portion of the Central Highlands Regional Council 

Part of the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council area.

Mr Furner said the declarations would allow the state to target assistance to primary producers who are doing it tough, and supporting agricultural industries and jobs.

"Already the Queensland Government has invested more than $670 million since 2013 to help drought-afflicted communities," he said. 

With the drought continuing unabated, Queensland drought commissioners Vaughn Johnson and Mark O'Brien had been reappointed.

Mr Furner said a lack of summer rainfall and increased temperatures have had a major impact on agriculture production, as this is the key period for our livestock and cropping systems that dominate Queensland's primary industries.

"The drought has seen poor pasture growth, failed winter and summer crops in many areas, as well as significant concerns about stock, irrigation and rural domestic water supplies moving forward into our normally dry winter period," he said.

For further information about drought assistance visit daf.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.