At one point last year, 15 out of 20 dams at Nationals candidate Peter Rundle’s farm in Katanning were running dry. “Since the February 2017 flood event, we have not had any large rainfall events that will run water into our dams with any great consistency,” he said. “Water is our most precious commodity and we need to understand it’s importance,” The lack of water in Mr Rundle’s dam inspired him to undertake a catchment and dam cleaning work project on his property to maximise any rainfall experienced, which is something he took to the floors of parliament. The amount of rainfall over the past 60 years in the region of Roe has declined significantly, from an average of 580 millilitres of water a year in the 1960s to only 458 millilitres in the early 2000s. Liberal candidate David Dwyer said the intuition of farmers has been instrumental in keeping the region afloat during these dry years, but can and should work alongside government policy to “adapt and prosper” to the changing climate. “This years’ 16 million-tonne harvest, in what was a low rainfall year for many, is a tribute to the ingenuity, willingness to adopt new technology and hard work of our grain growers,” Liberal candidate for Roe David Dwyer said. Mr Dwyer grew up on a farm in Grass Patch and has dealt with farmers as an accountant, which he said gives him a hands-on understanding of the stress and pressure that a lack of rain can cause to families and businesses. “The State government needs to start paying this issue the attention that it deserves,” he said, “Towns are running out of water for their sporting facilities, farmers are carting water, pipelines and town catchments need urgent repair and the Labor Party have ignored this problem for the past three years, “Has Mark McGowan or Water Minister Dave Kelly been to Lake Grace or Kukerin or Salmon Gums to have a look and talk to the affected communities? That’s the very least they should do.” Mr Dwyer said the Liberals would allocate $26 million from the Royalties for Regions budget for regional water infrastructure, should they form government. While Mr Dwyer identifies water catchment as the primary target of his water policy, Greens WA candidate Nikki Starr said her focus was sustainable farming practices to reduce greenhouse emissions “The heating of our planet is causing usual winter rain systems that help grow our crops and recharge our groundwater to be driven further south and are falling over the ocean,” she said. “In Roe, we can have a sustainable forestry industry, we can have regenerative farming practices, and we can have future-proof jobs in clean energy. “We can create jobs, change, and a better future. But only if we hold Labor accountable and push them to take real action,” Australian Christians candidate Cathie Kelly disagrees, and said climate change fears are undermining common sense and our resources should be focussed instead on lining catchments for dams. Ms Kelly was the only candidate to outspokenly deny the effects of the climate on the region’s rainfall patterns. Nationals MP Peter Rundle said the way forward was a combination of policy to combat climate change and reinstating the Farm Water Rebate Scheme. His party has pledged $20 million to reinstate the Farm Water Rebate Scheme and Pastoral Water Grants Scheme if elected. “The Nationals WA acknowledge Climate Change... we aim to work with our communities and businesses to adapt to Climate change and manage any potential economic and social costs,” he said. He said this scheme will improve water harvesting and supply works on tanks, troughs, pipes, dam cleaning, desalination and underground water identification, but that won’t be his only policy if elected. “My focus will be on reducing reliance on the scheme-water system by incentivising people to help themselves,” he said. “Alter the incoherent standpipe water regime of Water Corp, where people have to pay more than three times as much for the same water out of the same pipe depending on the size of the outlet.” “The Farm Water Rebate Scheme alone has invested more than $36 million since 1995 to improve water supplies on almost 4000 farms,” he said. “My focus will be on reducing reliance on the Scheme Water System by incentivising people to help themselves, “Alter the Incoherent Stand Pipe Water regime of the Water Corp where people have to pay more than 3 times as much for the same water out of the same pipe depending on the size of the outlet.” This limit on standpipe water was a key issue raised by One Nation candidate Graham Bushby, who said the restrictions were “disgraceful” because the limits caused trucks to take more hours to fill up than they should. He said Water Corp surpluses should be returned to the regions to help improve standpipe maintenance, catchment technology and dam expansion. Limits on standpipes was an issue that had personally affected Shooters, Fishers and Farmers candidate Bevan Steele, who has been forced to cart water from standpipes since his dams dried up. He said the focus on water trucking as opposed to reinvesting in town dams had seen local water infrastructure deteriorate to a point that many dams had become “unusable.” “Water is being trucked under contract to the Lake Grace and Jerramungup areas at a huge cost to taxpayers,” he said. “Again, the bush has been ignored. Rather than the costly trucking of water, these towns need on-site upgrades to restore their water supply locally.” Labor candidate Brad Willis disagreed with Mr Steele, describing trucking water as crucial to alleviating water supply issues across agricultural areas. He said the Labor Government would continue to invest in regional water infrastructure and the trucking of water, but he also called for more Federal funding. “The Federal Government needs to give WA its fair share of drought funding,” he said. “The Federal Liberals and Nationals have announced a $5 billion Future Drought Fund, but haven’t allocated a cent to WA projects.” Labor has launched small scale desalination technologies for farmers, to provide long-term water security by better enabling use of groundwater for livestock and cropping, according to Mr Willis. Labor has pledged $7.3 million to upgrade and refurbish 70 community dams in the Wheatbelt and Great Southern if they are returned to government. It has also invested $1.5m to explore groundwater desalination options in WA’s grainbelt.