A severe drought has broken in dramatic fashion in some parts of New South Wales, Australia, but the long-term forecasts remain grim.
For the first time in 483 days, the far-west NSW town of Bourke has water flowing over their weir after 94mm of rain this weekend.
Key agricultural areas in northern New South Wales had seen less than 1mm of rain in September. In July, August and September combined, those areas had less than 10mm, a huge fall from the historic averages ranging from 10 to 50mm per month during the same period.
Parts of the Riverina got as much as 55mm over Saturday and Sunday, while the Hunter region saw up to 27mm. In western NSW Cobar and Nyngan received 42 millimetres, while Brewarrina in the north-west received 51mm.
Farmers across much of inland NSW recorded falls of up to 100mm over Saturday and Sunday. In the Riverina, Wagga Wagga received 55mm and Griffith 40mm.
However, the northern inland region, where the drought has been at its worst, received almost no rain and the south-east and south of the state had only slightly better rainfall.
Worse still, the Bureau of Meteorology’s long range forecast shows warmer temperatures and below-average rainfall for New South Wales in the future.
Earlier this month, the National Farmers Federation announced it had written to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking him to consider giving farmers a financial incentive to leave their land, along with five other measures to respond to the "unprecedented" drought.
Tracy Dobie, mayor of the drought-stricken Southern Downs Region in southern Queensland, recently told The Daily Telegraph that water infrastructure must be upgraded to “prepare for longer and more frequent droughts”.
“The water storages (are) designed for three years without inflow, do we need to build them to accommodate five years without inflow?” she said.
On October 13, the prime minister announced that the Federal and New South Wales governments would collaborate on a one billion dollar (£530 million) water infrastructure package.
“Together we’ll deliver a $650 million upgrade of Wyangala Dam in the state’s Central West and a $480 million new Dungowan Dam near Tamworth,” he said.