Drinking Water Under Threat: Water Contamination Risks This Bushfire Season


Maintaining drinking water quality is a major challenge for water managers during and after bushfires.

Regional and metropolitan areas around NSW are facing water quality concerns in the face of the bushfire crisis.

In some areas of the state, drinking water treatment plants have been physically damaged by fire or impacted by fire-related power outages, causing a loss of drinkable tap water.

A reduction in water quality may also affect metropolitan areas, as ash and sediment may be washed into major water catchments such as Warragamba Dam.

“Fires have severely and extensively burnt major drinking water catchments for Sydney and the Shoalhaven region in NSW,” says Professor Stuart Khan, Professor in the School of Civil & Environmental Engineering at UNSW Sydney.

“The loss of trees and groundcover has made the soil more vulnerable to erosion. When the next big rainfall event comes along, runoff will wash a lot of that ash into waterways and dams.”

Continue reading at University of New South Wales

Image via University of New South Wales