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Australia More water trucked into towns as drought continues to bite

21:10  23 november  2019
21:10  23 november  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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There has already been more than million spent on trucking water into towns and the government is also investigating using rail to get water into some larger towns that are running low. We will continue to support them until this drought breaks."

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a truck driving down a dirt road: Wentworth Shire Council trucked water into Pooncarie in October to ensure its annual race meet could go ahead.© Dean Sewell Wentworth Shire Council trucked water into Pooncarie in October to ensure its annual race meet could go ahead.

The Berejiklian government will increase emergency water carting to drought-ravaged towns on the brink of running dry as the full cabinet embarks on a road trip to the worst affected areas of NSW.

The Deputy Premier John Barilaro insisted that a cabinet meeting be held in Bourke for the first time on Monday in a bid to expose all city-based ministers to the impact of the worsening drought.

Ministers will not fly directly into Bourke, but will instead drive from Dubbo, stopping along the way to visit towns that are struggling to survive.

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Bourke was on the cusp of running out of water until 100ml of rain fell recently, filling its weir pool and giving the town a lifeline for the next six months.

But without more significant rain, Bourke will face running out of water again soon.

The government will spend an extra $15 million over the next financial year carting water by road to some of the driest towns in the state, including Murrurundi, Guyra and Byrock.

There has already been more than $19 million spent on trucking water into towns and the government is also investigating using rail to get water into some larger towns that are running low.

One town likely to need more emergency water carted in is Pooncarie, a tiny township on the Darling River between Wentworth and Menindee.

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In October, Pooncarie ran out of water and Wentworth Shire Council trucked water into the town to ensure its annual country race meet could go ahead.

Mr Barilaro said carting water into towns like Pooncarie was essential for their survival.

"This government will do everything we can to make sure towns do not run dry," Mr Barilaro said.

The Pooncarie Cup was able to go ahead despite the town running out of water last month.© Dean Sewell The Pooncarie Cup was able to go ahead despite the town running out of water last month. "An additional $15 million for emergency water carting is essential to the survival of small towns which are not connected to major water infrastructure," Mr Barilaro said.

"Regional NSW is doing it tough and while our rural and remote communities show incredible resilience, they cannot take much more. We will continue to support them until this drought breaks."

The Water Minister Melinda Pavey said the latest funding announcement would bring the government's total spend on water carting to more than $34 million.

"We have a tough summer ahead of us," Ms Pavey said.

"Our regional communities are hurting and we will continue to do everything we can to help them through this worsening drought."

Mr Barilaro said he pushed for a community cabinet to be held in Bourke so all ministers could meet locals and understand how much the drought has hurt them.

"Nobody is chartering directly to Bourke. Every minister is driving from Dubbo to Bourke and making stops along the way to witness first-hand how far-reaching and devastating the drought is," Mr Barilaro said.

"We want the NSW cabinet to roll up their sleeves and get a bit of dirt on their boots so when they return to Sydney drought is at the forefront of their mind, influencing every decision made."

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