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The Riverina is expected to dodge the drought

Despite the drought returning to the north west of NSW, Deniliquin is unlikley to be gripped by the drought again.

ZOE MCMAUGH February 19, 2014 4:50am

Drought could take a hold of the region once again, but it is unlikely according to local industry leaders.

Low rainfall and low soil moisture has caused the drought to return to the north west of NSW, encompassing towns such as Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett.

While conditions have been dry locally, Deniliquin farmer Nick Morona said here was different to other areas of the state which have seemingly slipped back into drought.

‘‘There’s always a chance of drought because the Australian climate is so variable, but our climate is different to northern NSW,’’ he said.

‘‘Up north it’s terrible and it doesn’t look good for the next year.

‘‘It’s been a dry spring and summer for both our regions, but we don’t usually get our rain in the summer like they do – ours comes in autumn and winter.’’

Mr Morona said history also shows a wet autumn and winter usually follows a hot, dry summer.

‘‘Because it was so hot in January and February, for the first time in a long time, it normally indicates we are to have a normal autumn and winter.

‘‘We are finishing off (rice) with 100 per cent of water entitlement and if we get some more rain people can reduce the level of water required for the rice crop.’’

Murray Valley Community Action Group chair Lester Wheatley, who was vocal in the fight to protect regional communities’ water supply during the decade-long drought from 2001-2011, said he too did not see drought as an ‘‘immediate issue’’ for the local area.

He said ongoing dry conditions, however, could have an adverse impact.

‘‘In dryland farming rain is needed, but for irrigation areas Dartmouth Dam alone is still significantly high,’’ Mr Wheatley said.

‘‘If this dry spell was to continue, dryland farming areas would certainly feel it and next season could be difficult.

‘‘While we’re not in the same catchment (as the drought-affected areas), the drought is worrying.

‘‘It is the last thing we would want as we’re still recovering from the last one.

‘‘It’s times like these that show the benefit of irrigation and that water security secures farming communities like ours.

‘‘We also thank the people who had the foresight to build dams.’’

Mr Wheatley and Mr Morona agreed the first sign of drought in the local area would be a drop in water allocations.

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