Wellington Shire is urging drought-stricken primary producers to put their hands up to receive heavily subsidised household water. The shire has partnered with a number of water cartage contractors to let local farmers know they can receive up to two deliveries of household water without paying for the cartage. In addition to the free cartage, Gippsland Water and South Gippsland Water have also come on board to provide the household water at a reduced cost. The scheme is part of a Commonwealth Drought Communities Program awarded to Wellington shire for $1 million, part of which is being used to help farmers with household water. Wellington mayor Alan Hall said local farmers had told council that paying for water cartage was another financial burden of the drought. “The actual cartage of the water is the most expensive component of a water delivery,” Cr Hall said. Cr Hall said it was important to understand Gippsland was in dire straits and he urged locals to look out for one another and ask for help if they needed it. “We need to make people aware that the situation is grim and if we don’t get rainfall soon it will get worse. The seriousness of the situation cannot be understated,” Cr Hall said. “We applied for the drought funding as soon as we could.” Cr Hall said he had taken a drive around parts of Giffard with a local farmer, where they watched “topsoil blow off paddocks.” Cr Hall commended Gippsland’s water authorities for backing the scheme with subsidised water and said it was a good example of multiple levels of government working together. He also backed Member for Gippsland Darren Chester’s call last month for all tiers of government to work together to help the region’s struggling primary producers. “There is much more we can do, but there are serious concerns about water availability in the longer-term. Our current water supplies have to last,” he said. “At the moment, we are doing what we can with what we’ve got.” Primary producers interested in the offer can contact their local Wellington shire-based water carting contractors. To find out more, phone Wellington Shire business development officer Mark Coleman on 0437 841 104.