River Health & Water Quality

River Health

While devastation to the land is a highly visible consequence of fire, rivers are also affected because surrounding catchment condition is critical to river health.

The immediate impact of the fires themselves may appear to be minimal, however there are several key ways in which stream ecosystems can be affected by fires. These include changes in flows, sedimentation from soil and ash, and algal blooms from increase nutrients from sediments and less shade from vegetation.

The biggest issue can often be not the severity of the fire but by whether heavy rains followed, washing large amounts of ash and sediment into the river, and whether the fire left unburnt areas that allowed river life to take refuge and recolonize


1 If not already, get involved in the monitoring   of your creeks and rivers on your property or in your area. Please contact   your local waterwatch coordinator for more information at .
2 If stock now have access to   waterways, these areas may be a priority for fencing to reduce erosion and   protect any existing vegetation.


Water quality

After a fire, ash and soil from paddocks with inadequate groundcover may be blown into dams causing poor water quality for stock. Once in the water, organic materials provide ideal food for bacteria and algae.



Consider getting your dam water tested


Aerate dam water if required


Set   up silt traps around dams



In 2009, the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) produced a report called ‘Recovery after fire. Practical steps for landholders’. This document covers many topics and may be useful