THE Swan Hill Rural City Council and Gannawarra Shire Council have welcomed a $1 million drought relief funding boost from the federal government.
The Drought Communities Program funding has been allocated for local priority community infrastructure projects and other drought relief projects.
Swan Hill Rural City Council chief executive John McLinden said while the council hadn't applied for the grant, they were "pleasantly surprised" by the funding.
"Clearly, council is very supportive of the announcement," Mr McLinden said. "We're pleased our community will benefit from it.
"We have not yet seen the guidelines but we understand it's an infrastructure fund. Council will consider over the coming weeks and decide how to best use it at a community level to support drought-affected families."
The federal government announced it would allocate an additional $13 million to 13 eligible councils, as well as provide $33 million to resume the Drought Community Support Initiative.
But the government was criticised by the Moyne Shire Council in southwest Victoria on Sunday, with councillor Colin Ryan saying the region did not need support because it had one of the best seasons in years.
Mr McLinden said the situation for farmers in the Swan Hill region has been a "mixed bag".
"We're at the edge of the Mallee but we're also a river community," he said. "As a town, we also support a significant community on the northern side of the river into New South Wales.
"We don't often associate drought with irrigators but it's been a fairly tough year for the irrigation community.
"In respect for our dry land farmers, it's been a mixed bag. We've had some handy rainfall in some parts but not a lot of rain in other areas.
"We'll be having the onset of hot weather later this week and we think that will continue into the coming months. There may be some crop losses."
Data from the Bureau of Meteorology shows the Swan Hill region has received 154.6 millimetres of rain this year, although only 16 millimetres fell in the gauges in the first four months.
Mr McLinden said the council would always support drought-affected communities where they could.
"We haven't done anything specific in response to the current drought," Mr McLinden said. "But we've been working for decades to make community spaces more livable.
"We have the same hot, dry climate as the Mallee so we try to make sure our public spaces are green and welcoming.
"That will continue to be a focus of ours because we know that safe and welcoming spaces are critical to families who are doing it tough. But we are a long way from the doom and gloom."
A Gannawarra Shire Council spokesperson said the council welcomed the additional funding from the federal government.
There has been 163 millimetres of rain recorded in the Kerang rain gauge this year, although only 14 millimetres of rain fell in the first quarter with no rain recorded in April.
"Our communities are feeling the effects of drought with a decline in dairying, the high price of temporary water, and low rain fall," the spokesperson said.
"Drought impacts not only farming families but local businesses and entire communities.
"Gannawarra Shire Council formed the Gannawarra Community Resilience Committee almost 12 months ago, partnering with other local organisations to provide opportunities for communities to come together, share their stories, and make meaningful connections.
"The $1 million funding announcement further boosts support for communities during these tough times."
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