Small dams not cutting it for stock water

MANY Victorian farmers rely on small farm dams to provide water for stock and domestic use but according to Agriculture Victoria farm water supply specialist Clem Sturmfels, these dams are increasingly unable to meet stock and domestic water demands.

“Over recent years dams have become less reliable due to a hotter and drier climate, more severe droughts and increasing areas of the state being sown to crops or improved pastures,” Mr Sturmfels said.

“A small reduction in rainfall or change in land use can significantly reduce the amount of runoff available for farm dams.”

Potential solutions to this issue, and many other farm water-related problems, will be discussed during a webinar hosted by Agriculture Victoria May 20.

During the one-hour ‘Planning and designing a five-star water supply system’ presentation, Mr Strumfels will discuss water quality and quantity, climate impacts, water planning and design.

“Farmers need to consider all available options before spending money sinking a bore, building a larger dam or installing a reticulated water supply system,” he said.

“They should start with a thorough stocktake of their existing system and calculate the water needs of their grazing enterprise, while also taking into account the strategies they will implement during the next dry season or drought.”

Mr Sturmfels, whose background is in soil conservation, whole farm planning and on-farm water reticulation systems, said small dams often go dry over summer due to their limited storage capacity and very high evaporation losses.

“Large dams, on the other hand, are becoming less popular due to the lack of suitable sites, planning permit requirements and the impact these dams have on downstream flows.”

The webinar will also cover planning, designing, mapping and the implementation of water supply systems.

This event is delivered by Agriculture Victoria and funded by the Victorian Government 2019-20 drought support package.
To join this webinar/ phone seminar, register online at