Australian towns could run out of water by Christmas as drought drags on

A drought-affected farming property on the outskirts of the northwestern New South Wales town of Walgett in Australia, on July 19, 2018.
A drought-affected farming property on the outskirts of the northwestern New South Wales town of Walgett in Australia, on July 19, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS
Sydney, the state capital, is also in dire need of rain, with its dams falling below half full, according to the local water authority.
Sydney, the state capital, is also in dire need of rain, with its dams falling below half full, according to the local water authority.PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (DPA) - Dozens of Australia's inland towns could run completely out of water by Christmas unless the worst drought in the country's history finally breaks after its fourth year, officials warned on Sunday (Sept 15).

If there is no spring rain, several towns in the state of New South Wales such as Dubbo, Cobar, Nyngan and Narromine will have to rely on drinking water being trucked in for residents, the government water authority WaterNSW said in a new study.

Several rivers are predicted to run dry by November as summer starts, and the Bureau of Meteorology says there is no sign the drought is going to end soon.

New South Wales' Water Minister Melinda Pavey told reporters in Canberra that the situation was critical, and if the drought continues, many more inland towns would be dry by late 2020.

She said that "everything humanly possible" is being done to help, including new water bores and building water pipelines to supply towns, the Australian Associated Press reported.

Sydney, the state capital, is also in dire need of rain, with its dams falling below half full, according to the local water authority.

A desalination plant is turning sea water into drinking water for a quarter of the city.

Australia's longest river, the Murray, which runs east to west, marking the border between New South Wales and Victoria, usually has 5,000 gigalitres (GL) a year entering its system. In the past 12 months, it has received only 901 GL, data from WaterNSW showed.