Post bushfire hydrology

The recent devastating bushfires have left many water supply catchments significantly damaged.

Water and catchment managers will be faced with a range of short and long-term impacts on both water quality and volumes of runoff. 

In this page, we bring together information to support our community work through these challenging times, including:

  • an overview of the current state of knowledge of post bushfire hydrology,
  •  how to apply Source functionality to assess post bushfire hydrology, and
  • useful information sources.

Research and past experience tell us that it could take decades for catchments to recover and that the impacts will vary at different stages of the recovery process. Modelling will be an important tool, providing water and catchment managers with a platform to understand the different risks to water availability and water quality as catchment conditions change and to test the performance of different management responses. 

If you would like more information or support with using Source to help understand the impact of bushfire on your catchment or water supply, please contact:

Geoff Adams ( 6201 2386)


Trudy Green ( / 02 6206 8796)

Bushfire impacts on hydrology

The two most significant impacts of bushfires on hydrology are changes to water quality and runoff rates. We have compiled a short summary of information on these impacts.  

Find out more

Representing bushfire impacts in Source

Source has a range of functionality that can be adapted to model the impacts of bushfires. This section provides an overview of how this can be done.

Find out more

Useful resources 

The eWater Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and its predecessors the CRC for Catchment Hydrology and CRC for Freshwater Ecology led a range of initiatives investigating the impacts of bushfires on catchments. Much of this information remains relevant today.

Bushfire and Hazards CRC 

Water Quality Australia 

Factsheet Bushfires and Risks to Drinking Water Quality (Water Research Australia)

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research 

Fire and Soils: A review of the potential impacts of different fire regimes on soil erosion and sedimentation, nutrient and carbon cycling, and water quantity and quality (NSW Environment Energy and Science)

US Geological Survey – Water Quality after wildfire