Six months ago NSW Drought Coordinator Pip Job told of severe water shortages amid a statewide drought so fierce it was dubbed one of the worst in living memory.
Fast forward half a year and little has changed.
Ms Job, who passed the baton to NSW Land and Water Commissioner Jock Laurie at the end of last week, said water was still a huge concern and the drought was now biting all types of farming – even aquaculture.
The mother-of-four put her heart and soul into listening to farmers and residents from regional towns.
She spent much of the role on the road and passed all of the information onto the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.
Right now some towns have already run out of water. Others are sourcing underground water to survive – and finding challenges with the quality, she said.
With an El Nino predicted over summer, which will put a drought on top of the existing drought, Ms Job said water shortages would become even more critical.
“A lot have been buying bottled water when they do their shopping, and they have been doing that for a long time,”Ms Job said.
“We’re coming into summer and our summers are hot in NSW. You can’t deny that,” Ms Job said.
“We’ve got big chunks of our state where access to drinking water is becoming difficult. We’ve got difficult times ahead.
“That is going to have impacts and people who don’t have much feed are going to be in the position where they will need to continue feeding or make some tough decisions.
Ms Job said the logistics of carting water to farms and towns, which were sometimes two to three hours apart, would also be a challenge.
“There will be water issues and we need to make sure people have access to potable water. That is really important.”
Take a look at the drought for yourself:
She said there had been many requests from farmers who wanted recycled water to nourish livestock, but transporting it was a significant barrier.
Ms Job said being the state drought coordinator was “one of the hardest jobs” she has ever had, but also one of the most rewarding.
“You get to see the best and the worst of everything,” she said.
“The cost of doing business is a major issue at the moment … All of our farmers are really worried about their local towns.”