What does watching paint dry and a drought have in common?

Have you ever painted a wall, or anything really, and tried to watch the paint dry? Watching paint dry is a slow process (if you ever do it), which seems to take forever and this is what it is like waiting out a drought. Slow and frustrating.

Perhaps a bit of a clunky analogy but nevertheless it paints the picture of what it may be like for the Australian farmers when waiting for rain during this prolonged drought. The analogy of paint drying on the wall and waiting for the rain to arrive have another thing in common too. There is not much you can do to hurry up the process of either the paint drying or the rain arriving.

There are however definite and positive steps that can be taken to harness not only a sense of control but to prepare so that rainwater is harvested and stored in an efficient manner when the rain finally arrives. In fact, there is no better time than during a dry spell to do an audit regarding water tank capacities and asses if our current tanks meet our water usage needs. Another consideration is that water tanks need to be clean to be efficient – regular rainwater tank maintenance is not an optional. Well maintained water tanks are better functioning and ensure both better quality water and greater capacity.

Some farmers in far-west of New South Wales have embarked on the project of preparing their rainwater harvesting systems and water tanks. Whilst it may seem odd to focus on water when it is dry one farmer says that it makes a lot of sense, “it is the only time when there is no water in the tank”. The rain prepared tanks mean that the land can stay greener for longer as they store more water. Hence, the tactical step of tank maintenance is an investment for long term benefits and profits.

The long-term favourable returns of water optimising of rainwater tanks and water storage are obvious. However, depending on the size of the farm and how many water tanks that need to be cleaned, it may be a significant financial investment.

In New South Wales, farmers can seek assistance with their water optimising projects and take advantage of the State Government’s low-interest Farm Innovation Fund loan. You can read more here.

The Victorian State Government has set up the On-Farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants program in response to droughts “to assist farm businesses implement on-farm infrastructure that improves drought management and preparedness and longer-term viability of the farm”. You can read more here.


As mentioned, an important step of ‘rain preparedness’ is to estimate if the current water storage matches the actual water usage. Use Bushmans Water Tank calculator to estimate how much water you need.


Whilst it is true that to watch paint dry is both boring and a waste of time, to focus on how well prepared we are to catch those golden drops of rain when the sky is opening is time well spent and an investment into our future. One could say, the grass is greener on the other side.


Author: H Lindholm