1/4/2016: The
1/4/2016: The "Burrumbuttock Hay Runners" huge convoy of arround 250 prime movers and 400 trailers complete their 1860km run hauling $6 million worth of hay to Ilfracombe, east of Longreach, QLD. Organised by Brendan Bumpa Farrell the charity hay drive arrives to start unloading thousands of bales of hay for distribution to greatful local drought affected farmers. Lyndon Mechielsen/The Australian Lyndon Mechielsen

Drought status review could take months

AS THE drought continues to burden the state's western regions, Bundaberg may have to wait until April next year before its drought status is reassessed.

Bundaberg was last declared to be in full drought on March 1, 2017, which was lifted just three months ago on May 17, 2018.

A department of agriculture and fisheries spokesperson said Bundaberg's drought status was revoked following an above average rainfall experienced during summer.

"The Local Drought Committees made a recommendation to the Minister that the Bundaberg Regional Council no longer be drought declared,” she said.

"The Minister accepted this recommendation and the Bundaberg Regional Council drought status was revoked.”

The criteria for an area or shire's drought declaration defines a state of drought is actualised when it meets "a rainfall deficiency in the last 12 months that is likely to occur no more than once every 10 years.”

The Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries makes drought declarations and revocations following recommendations from LDC.

Committees are made up of local industry representatives and department of agriculture and fisheries officers.

"LDCs meet at least once a year at the end of the summer rainfall period (April) to assess seasonal conditions and make their recommendations about the drought status of their areas,” she said.

"The committees can also decide to meet throughout the year if necessary.

"In making a decision for their recommendation to the Minister about revoking an area's drought declaration, the LDCs address a number of criteria such as the amount of rain that has fallen and whether such rain was general or not, the response of pastures and crops and their condition, availability of surface water, condition of livestock and prevailing weather conditions such as winds and temperatures.”

As per the last review conducted on August 1, 57.4 per cent of the Sunshine State was considered drought-declared.

There are a total of 23 councils and four part-council areas in drought, with the addition of a further 85 individually droughted properties in another 11 shires.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology it was the driest July nationally since 2002.

BOM spokesperson Harry Clark said Bundaberg had "very much below average” rainfall over the past three months, with rainfall deficiencies increasing in both area extent and severity for inland southern Queensland.

"Serious to severe rainfall deficiencies for the four-month period are in place across southern, western and central Queensland.”

Mr Clark said winter was typically the driest season and while rainfall couldn't be ruled out, given the time of year, large rainfalls were not expected.

"The average is quite low regardless. August to October we're predicting a 55 per cent chance of at least 100mm.”

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