SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian state will spend tens of thousands of dollars each month to truck water into a drought-hit town that is forecast to run out of drinking water by December, it said on Friday.
The northeastern state of Queensland has announced A$2.4 million ($1.65 million) in emergency funds, which would include A$800,000 per month in costs to cart water, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the minister for natural resources Anthony Lynham said in a joint statement.
The fund will ensure residents of the drought-hit and bushfire ravaged town of Stanthorpe have secure drinking water supply until 2021, the ministers said.
Australia is in the midst of its worst drought on record, with Queensland and New South Wales states ravaged by earlier-than-normal bushfires in recent days leaving extensive parts of the country parched.
“With bushfires following the prolonged drought, Stanthorpe will not be left to battle through this alone,” Palaszczuk was quoted in the statement as saying.
Around 34 truckloads of water per day will be carted from Connolly Dam, about 75 km (45 miles) north of Stanthorpe.
“That’s an estimated A$800,000 per month to cart 1.6 million liters of water in each day,” she added.
“If the drought lifts and the wet season delivers enough water, then the carting will no longer be needed.”
Both Queensland and the most populous state of New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital city, have already imposed water restrictions on residents as dam levels sink due to the prolonged drought. ($1 = 1.4545 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Alex Richardson