FARMERS looking to access desperately needed water from existing bores need to be careful before they start pumping.
Southern Rural Water drilling inspector Tony Sanders has urged anyone with an existing well to hasten slowly when getting it back into action.
He said a dry 18 months and early start to sweltering summer conditions had seen many farmers considering bores that have not been used for some time.
Water availability, salinity and bore infrastructure all need to be factored-in before the first drop of underground water can be pumped to the surface.
“De-gear them to start, pull the pumps and everything out – the whole shooting match,” Tony said.
“Have somebody come in and redevelop the well and do a flow-rate test on it.
“One thing that I must emphasise, is to do a proper pump test over 24 hours. Make sure that the pump you have in the hole matches the flow-rate.”
Tony said farmers need to ascertain the flow-rate and the draw-down and have a pump matched to both.
“Also take into consideration the amount of head,” he urged.
“Your pump person will be able to help with the head pressure and friction loss.”
Ongoing monitoring of the bore is crucial to ensure that pumps don’t run dry, causing the entire system to break down.
“A bore might produce 450ml of water a second but when you pump that bore for 30 or 40 days straight that flow-rate will drop off,” Tony said.
“So they might only get 300mL of water per second after a while and they need to be able to monitor that.”
Tony believes the best way to monitor bore performance is through the flow-rate of the pump while also keeping an eye on the draw down.
“They’re the sort of things that farmers can do themselves,” he said.
“It’s a bit time consuming but it’s worthwhile to make it part of your weekly routine to check the flow-rate and draw-down.”
As part of GippsDairy/Dairy Australia’s ongoing Tactic for Dry Times program, a special meeting was held in Inverloch recently to address the concerns of farmers in the district.
The coastal area has been among the hardest hit in Gippsland, with many farms already running low on stock water.
Sinking of new bores and restarting old ones was discussed at the meeting, with Tony on hand to answer questions from farmers.
He said there is not much water available in the district, and what can be found is likely to be highly saline.
“Water is between 1000 and 3000 parts ECU (electrical conductivity unit) while some of the bores south-west of Inverloch are extremely high in salt – up to 10,000 ECU – and the cows won’t drink that; they won’t produce milk off that,” he said.
Tony said some of the water can be good for washing down the dairy, but farmers should be careful about the effects of salty water running through water heaters and other equipment.
GippsDairy projects and events co-ordinator Karen Romano said accessing information from experts like Tony Sanders was crucial during the current season.
“Farmers are looking for every advantage they can get, so GippsDairy and Dairy Australia have been using dairy service levy funds to hold the Tactics for Dry Times sessions across the region,” she said.
“We have a wealth of knowledge in the industry that farmers need to be able to access, so we have been bringing together the experts in various fields for these farmer sessions.”
“I’d urge any farmer who needs assistance with water issues to access information on the Dairy Australia or GippsDairy websites, contact the offices of the relevant authority or talk to your milk company field officer.”
Drilling down into water issues