Australia Weather News

Recent rain has improved the prospects for this year's canola crops at Canowindra, NSW. - ABC

More than one third of New South Wales is officially no longer in drought after regular rain this year helped parts of the state's central west, south coast and Sydney basin to recover from one of the worst droughts on record.

"We've had good gentle rain right throughout the season," Cowra district farmer and New South Wales Farmers' Association vice president, Chris Groves, said.

"It started in February and in fact by the end of February we'd had more rain here than we'd had for the whole of 2019."

The rain has replenished soil moisture, filled farm dams, revived pastures and given farmers the best chance of harvesting a winter crop in a few years.

"The way the drought has broken has been fantastic," Mr Groves said.

"A lot of the older guys around here will say that every big drought breaks with a big flood and so far we haven't seen a big flood on the Lachlan (River)."

Some of the state's biggest dams which provide town water supplies have also bounced back.

Regional towns working hard to retain water

Since February, Burrendong Dam near Wellington has risen from 1.5 per cent to 33 per cent and Keepit Dam at Gunnedah has gone from 5 per cent to 21 per cent.

Wyangala Dam near Cowra missed out on a lot of the rain that has fallen so far this year, but has finally received some inflows.

Tony Webber from Water New South Wales said Wyangala's capacity has doubled since June and is now 38 per cent full.

"Town water security has certainly improved particularly in the hardest hit valleys but that comes from a situation where there was great pressure on that water security," Mr Webber said.

Many regional towns and cities have been working hard to avoid running out of water.

Orange has been on the second highest level of water restrictions since October 2019.

The Mayor of Orange Reg Kidd said they have received enough rain and inflows in the past few months that water restrictions are set to be eased in a few weeks.

"It's been absolutely fantastic the rain," Mayor Kidd said.

"I think it's made us be a lot smarter, particularly in New South Wales, how we're coming out of this drought."

Despite this improvement, the Broken Hill district remains in intense drought and parts of the south and far north coasts have not experienced a break yet.

Many parts of the south coast around Moruya have been hit by flooding.

"They've had catastrophic conditions right through the autumn and now the winter but now with the rainfall that they've had it is looking pretty reasonable," Mr Groves said.

ABC