On August 10th, the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) announced that stage 4 water restrictions were in effect, banning all outdoor watering for areas of the Sunshine Coast that are on the Chapman Water System. This follows several weeks of dry weather and two heatwaves, bringing the level of available water to dangerously low levels. Under stage 4 restrictions, farms in the SCRD were not exempt, meaning that local food crops were under threat, as farmers were not allowed to water their crops. This problem was a major threat to local food security, as most Coastal farms provide food almost exclusively for local consumption. In response, the One Straw Society, in partnership with Persephone Brewing, sprung into action immediately to deliver well water to farmers from several different locations, filling 1000 litre totes so that farmers could save their crops. In the meantime, the Sunshine Coast Farmers' Institute directly lobbied the SCRD for an exemption from stage 4 restrictions for soil-based (produce-growing) farms. On August 17th, the SCRD Board of Directors held a special emergency meeting and passed a motion put forward by Area E (Elphinstone) Director Donna McMahon to allow for a two week exemption from stage 4 restrictions for 16 registered farms in the SCRD.
Sunshine Coast Palate magazine editor Jody Franklin hosted a roundtable Zoom discussion concerning the impact of drought conditions on local food security. Joining Jody to discuss the matter was Donna McMahon, elected Director of SCRD Area E; Raquel Kolof of the Sunshine Coast Farmers' Institute; and Casandra Fletcher of the One Straw Society. The participants take a deep dive into the current water crisis, speaking to the struggles of farmers to save their crops, rapid community action to mitigate the crisis, the local government response, and the future of effective water management in the region as the global climate crisis deepens.