Feature Length Live Virtual Presentation 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

Key learnings from Australian drinking water authorities for catchment bushfire response – Preparedness, priorities, and performance (#27)

Rhiannon Hughes 1 , Rebecca Mabbott 1
  1. Soil Conservation Service, Parramatta, NSW, Australia
  • Following the 2019/2020 Black Summer Bushfires, the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) reviewed strategies implemented by Australian water agencies to manage drinking water catchments post-fire.
  • SCS interviewed drinking water agencies in six states/territories to discuss post-fire catchment management strategies and identify key learnings/recommendations. Agency interviews were coupled with literature review to assess the suitability of practices to the Warragamba Catchment context.
  • SCS identified that pre-fire planning was essential to post-fire response. Water agencies with detailed risk assessment, contingency planning and response procedures were the best prepared for responding rapidly following bushfire. Due to the unpredictable nature of bushfire, a ‘give it a go’ attitude was integral in most bushfire catchment response case studies. Post-fire catchment response strategies much be considered in specific catchment contexts, especially literature from international studies.
  • This review provides water agencies and catchment managers with key learnings for bushfire preparedness and response in an Australian context. Knowledge gaps including limited post-intervention monitoring were common to many agencies and should be integrated into bushfire response plans to improve future bushfire response.  
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