It may not be falling from the sky but free water is on the way for many drought-stricken Australian farmers.
About 25,000 litres of water was delivered to a Queensland Southern Downs farm for the start of Water on Wheels, a pilot service launched by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) and national transport company McColl’s.
The companies are trucking free, non-potable water to farms within 50 kilometres of the Newell or Pacific Highways in Queensland and New South Wales.
The specially-treated recycled water is left over from the brewing process at CUB’s Yatala plant. It can be used to water crops and livestock.
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said water deliveries would make an enormous difference to the region, which was drought declared in May 2018.
“This is the worst drought we have experienced in history,” Cr Dobie said. “We really appreciate what CUB and McColl’s are doing to help our community.”
Fourth-generation farmer Greg Free and his wife Sue took delivery of 25,000 litres of water on their horse and cattle property at Womina in Warwick.
“We’re down to about 40 head of cattle now, we’ve had to destock because of the lack of water,” Mr Free said.
“Normally we’d run about 120 head of cattle, but with no water it’s too hard to keep them going. We also usually grow crops including barley, corn, sorghum and oats, but the drought has put a stop to that. It’s completely dry, there isn’t a blade of grass to be found, so this water will be a big help.”
CUB’s Queensland Sales Director Mick McKeown said the water deliveries were just one of the small things they could do to help those in regional Queensland who were still battling through drought.
“We helped launch Water on Wheels because regional Australian communities like those in the Southern Downs have always supported us,” he said.
“We have the water and McColls has the transport network, so it makes perfect sense for us to focus some of our disaster relief efforts on an initiative like this.
McColl’s Group Business Development Manager Andrew Thompson said it was devastating to see how tough some families were doing it.
The bulk food grade division operates Australia’s largest fleet of tankers dedicated to transporting wine, beer, cider, fruit juices, chocolate, food oils, glucose, concentrates and a variety of other products.
“We have hundreds of drivers travelling throughout Australia to farms every week to pick up milk supplies,” Mr Thompson said.
“We have seen first-hand how dry many parts of Queensland and New South Wales are and the struggles that families on the land have to battle. McColl’s wants to do whatever it can to help these farmers until the rain comes.”
Granite Belt Drought Assist will help co-ordinate the farmers who receive the water.
Manager Glenda Riley said the water deliveries would make a huge difference to those who are living on the land.
“This program is going to make a big difference to farmers struggling to get by during this record drought,” she said.
“Having the opportunity to receive stock water, offers hope, allows the farmer to buy feed, put food on the table or pay some bills and a reprieve from the drought for a short time.
Farmers who want to find out more about Water on Wheels should email firstname.lastname@example.org