Water

NSW drought pledge

By Country News

The NSW Government says $355million will be allocated in the state budget to help keep drought-stricken communities working as the big dry continues to bite into farm-driven local economies.

Some $170million would go towards a ‘‘drought infrastructure package’’ to fund critical water and infrastructure projects in the bush in a bid to keep money flowing into towns, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

‘‘When farmers can’t contract tradies and other workers, there is a flow-on effect felt throughout local businesses such as cafes and local stores,’’ Ms Berejiklian said.

About $120million of the infrastructure package will be used to fast-track projects such as regional airport upgrades, CBD revitalisations and industrial land construction.

The rest of the funds have already been allocated towards initiatives including a new groundwater supply at Dubbo ($30million), water storage at Nyngan ($8.2million) and bore water for Coonabarabran ($2.2million).

An additional $185million will provide on-farm support measures which include stock, food and water transport subsidies ($70million), waiving Local Land Services rates ($50million) and NSW Water Licence fees ($30million).

Some 97.4 per cent of NSW is currently drought-affected, in drought or in intense drought, according to NSW DPI.

Only two per cent of the state is listed as ‘‘recovering’’.