WITH rural household water supplies at critical levels in the Guyra district, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Armidale Regional Council Mayor Simon Murray launched a free portable laundry service at the Guyra Showground last Friday.
Mr Marshall said farm and rural residential water supplies were at crisis point, and many rural families now lacked sufficient clean water for their basic laundry needs.
"It's absolutely devastating to think after a hard day's work in the dusty paddock, our farmers and their families cannot even put on clean shirts," Mr Marshall said.
The State Government has provided an emergency grant of $7,700 to install a shed and washing machines at the Guyra Showground, which is accessible to the public between 7am and 5pm, 7 days a week.
"The nearest public and commercial laundries to Guyra are in Armidale," Mr Marshall said. "The cost of travelling out of town to do a load of washing is often prohibitive for families, not to mention the time it takes them away from working on the farm."
He applauded the Armidale Regional Council and charities like St Vincent De Paul Society for stepping in and providing this basic necessity to these families.
"It's often the small things that matter," Mr Marshall said. "In such a tough time, having this free facility will make the lives of many locals just that little bit easier and comfortable."
Cr Murray said the service would not take any water from the town's supply but use a pre-existing bore.
"I thank Adam and the government for the quick response and support for this vital initiative," Mr Murray said.
"Council has worked with a variety of local organisations to ensure homes have bottled water which can be used for drinking and cooking only. Sadly, however, the need for potable water is now far beyond that.
"It can now take up to seven weeks for residents to receive a delivery of water. I urge people to monitor their household tanks and make sure they are ordering water well before they turn the tap on and nothing comes out."
Mr Marshall also thanked Guyra's Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) for establishing a similar service at its shed on Yarrawanda Street.
"This drought has brought out the very best in country people," Mr Marshall said, "with communities banding together to ensure farming families have all the support they need to get through this terrible time.
"Normally doing the washing is a job not many people enjoy, but I urge the Guyra community to utilise this service - and use it as an opportunity to take a break from the farm and catch up with friends in town."