A LITTLE RAINY RELIEF: Glenda Riley is instrumental in assisting farmers, such as the Free family, in finding water for their properties and homes.
A LITTLE RAINY RELIEF: Glenda Riley is instrumental in assisting farmers, such as the Free family, in finding water for their properties and homes.

Downs’ demand for donated water slows to trickle

DEMAND is down for donated drinking water as widespread rain offers welcome relief to the water woes of the Southern Downs.

Granite Belt Drought Assist has worked tirelessly for months to source and distribute water to parched rural residents as ongoing drought left water tanks empty and job prospects lacking.

But with rain has come hope.

The Bureau of Meteorology recorded between 56 and 136mm of falls across the Southern Downs in January, with Stanthorpe receiving its greatest rainfall total since October 2018.

The grass is greener, the dams are fuller and for the first time in a long time, there is the welcome hum of lawnmowers during the day.

"It's a stress relief," said GBDA organiser Glenda Riley.

"You hear that and you know there's a business out there that has a bit of work for the first time in months."

Ms Riley estimated the rain has provided between six and 10 weeks of water supply for rural residents on the Granite Belt.

"That's a huge impact," she said.

"That's $200 - 300 of water these families don't have to fork out for, that's money they can put towards their bills."

Some residents are using the opportunity to have their first hot bath in months, catch up on their laundry or spend another minute in the shower, according to Ms Riley.

Opening hours of the H2O centre have been reduced significantly to account for the slowing trickle of desperate residents seeking GBDA's services.

"Things are quiet but there's still a bit of apprehension," Ms Riley said.

"How long is this going to last? What's happening next month? What happens during winter, when it's traditionally a dry time of year?"

"To be honest, if you dig more than six inches into the earth it's still very dry, a lot of this isn't getting through the surface."

Ms Riley said it will be a long time until the region can declare itself drought-free, and those who live through it will likely never forget.

"We won't stop worrying until things return to normal," she said.


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