Department of Human Services

Bushfires and rainwater quality

Bushfires generate large amounts of ash and debris which have the potential to contaminate water.


Although ash and debris in rainwater does not represent a health risk, it could affect the colour, the clarity and the taste of the water. The SA Health Water Quality team is available to answer questions during business hours.

Phone 8226 7100

More about rainwater quality after a fire:

SA Health information on bushfires and water quality

Guidance on use of rainwater tanks

SA Health information on rainwater

Dams and waterways

Ash from burnt permapine (CCA timber, treated with copper, chromium and arsenic), is hazardous to livestock if significant amounts get into your dam or waterways.

Free water quality testing is available for people who have concerns a significant amount of this ash is impacting the water quality of their dams or waterways.

Testing water (Cudlee Creek)

There is a very low risk of water contamination from burnt permapine posts, however, the Department for Environment and Water will fund testing by the Australian Water Quality Centre and have the results interpreted by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). It’s expected to take about 7 to 10 days for landholders to receive their results from the EPA (an email address will be requested when a sample is dropped off).

Sample bottles can be collected, and dropped off, at the Lobethal Recovery Centre and the Natural Resources Centres of Mount Barker, Woodside and Eastwood.

If you use your own bottle to collect water:

  • use a bottle that is clean and free of any contamination
  • avoid getting mud/debris in the bottle
  • provide only one sample per dam or waterbody.

Details on how to collect a water sample from your dam or waterway, and strategies on how to improve your water quality, are available in this EPA fact sheet.

Post-bushfire water quality in farm dams and creeks (PDF 230 KB)

Blue-green and other algal outbreaks

Aeration is the recommended method to manage algae.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (WA) has some simple control methods for algae.

If you would like to speak to someone about the quality of water in your dam or waterways, please contact Natural Resources staff.

Page last updated : 06 Mar 2020

State Government of South Australia © Copyright DHS .[sm v5.4.7.1]