How the nation’s bushfire crisis could become a waterways crisis


How the nation’s bushfire crisis could become a waterways crisis

Adjunct Professor Max Finlayson co-authors paper with Mr Jason Alexandra from RMIT on how floods affect waterways after bushfires and what the government should be doing to protect the resources now.

  • Charles Sturt academic warns of the potential consequences of floods after bushfires
  • Albury-Wodonga-based Adjunct Professor Max Finlayson co-authored paper with Mr Jason Alexandra from RMIT, which warns of dangers of ash entering waterways
  • Professor Finlayson said waterways should be made a priority after bushfires as part of ecological recovery strategy

A paper co-authored by a Charles Sturt University academic highlights the dangers of Australia’s recent bushfire crisis turning into a waterway crisis.

Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Land, Water and Society Max Finlayson in Albury-Wodonga recently co-authored with Mr Jason Alexandra from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, ‘Floods after bushfires: rapid responses for reducing impacts of sediment, ash, and nutrient slugs’.

The paper was published online in the Australasian Journal of Water Resources and urges immediate action to minimise the fires’ impact on Australian waterways.

Professor Finlayson and Mr Alexandra write about the risks posed to waterways, catchments, wetlands, lakes, and estuaries when rainfall washes silt and ash into them.

Fire-affected areas are susceptible to erosion so heavy rain could wash sediment, ash, and nutrients into waterways.

The result is potential algal blooms, problems for urban water supplies, and fish kills.

The published article identifies four focus areas – assessing the risk and options for co-ordinated policy responses; making water supplies a priority for assessment and treatment; identifying important habitat areas and at-risk species of fish; and increasing monitoring and health warnings for the public.

Professor Finlayson said investing in water supplies and quality benefits human health and reduces economic loss.

He said quick reaction will ensure the bushfire crisis does not become a waterways crisis.

“There are short-term, medium-term, and long-term considerations for post-fire recovery,” he said.

“State and Commonwealth governments need to use past experiences and the information gathered during this crisis to design and co-ordinate recovery programs to ensure the longevity of our waterways after bushfires.”

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Professor Max Finlayson, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on 0429 217 026 or

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