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What do councils need to consider post bushfire?

Thursday 12 September 2019

The first intense rainfall post a bushfire catchments can cause a number of issues and impacts onto the drinking water quality. Actions should be considered as you enter the planning for recovery and potential impacts on water quality and supply.

The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy are sharing with councils some information for service providers to consider post a bushfire as they enter the planning for recovery and potential impacts on water quality and supply.

Points to consider

• Problems for drinking water quality arise with the first heavy post bushfire rainfall events in affected catchments. Heavy rains can result in sediment runoff which leads to spikes in turbidity that can interfere with the effectiveness of water treatment, including overwhelming filtration. For drinking water, constituents of most concern following a fire are suspended sediment, nutrients and metals.
• Actions that can be undertaken to minimise the impact on drinking water quality include sediment and erosion control, and rehabilitation of fire control lines and access tracks.
• Possible measures for service providers include increased monitoring of source water and operational monitoring of key treatment processes, and greater frequency of verification monitoring.
• Responses to impacted drinking water quality may include issuing of boil water alerts or water restrictions.
• Disaster or emergency response is considered by drinking water service providers in their risk assessment, incident management and emergency planning as part of their Drinking Water Quality Management Plans. Water in rainwater tanks on your property can be contaminated during or after a bushfire, either indirectly by ash, smoke, debris or directly by fire and firefighting activities.
• If there is any risk of contamination, do not use water from your rainwater tank for drinking, preparing foods, making ice, washing and bathing, cleaning teeth and watering animals.
• Ensure that all rainwater from the first good rainfall event after the fire is run to waste, as this may be contaminated by ash and other pollutants from the fire.

The Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy will be in direct contact with council water supply entities to provide further information. 

Asbestos contaminated dust and debris

Resources to councils to assist them with Containment and disposal of asbestos contaminated dust and debris arising from fire damaged buildings are also available.

  • Consult the DEIR Asbestos website 
  • Read the guidelines on containment and disposal

Have questions? Get in touch with the LGAQ's Manager Advisory Services on or via our Member Hotline on 1300 542 700.


Local Government Association of Queensland
LG House, 25 Evelyn Street, Newstead Qld 4006


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