Journal of the Department of Agriculture, Western Australia, Series 4


J L. Frith


Drought, Water harvesting, Water conservation, Dams, Watersheds, Cost analysis

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For many years, Western Australia's north-eastern wheatbelthas suffered chronic shortages of water for stock and domestic use. The area's averageannual rainfall is generally low - less than 300 millimetres - and droughts in the 1970s caused futher problems. manydams in the area leak or have inadequate catchmentsand groundwater is scarce ormofmpoor quality.

In March 982, the Western Australian Government provided $100 000 for the Department of agriculture to demonstrate the potential of establishing permanent, drought-proof water supplies on farms in the north-eastern wheatbelt. The methods were to use exixting techniques to build dams and catchments. In a year of low rainfall, for example, a well maintained roaded catchment can yield one quarter of the rain falling on it. This article describes the project, the works undertaken, the costs and benefits.