Bushfire inquiry commends WaterNSW for protection of catchment and water quality

Bushfire inquiry commends WaterNSW for protection of catchment and water quality

31 August 2020

WaterNSW has been commended for successfully preventing critical damage to essential water supply and related electricity infrastructure during the devastating black summer bushfires.

The final report into the NSW Bushfires was submitted last week after an inquiry was announced by Premier Gladys Berejiklian in January in response to the worst bushfires in recorded Australian history.

The report - which said WaterNSW and the response agencies were largely successful in preventing critical damage to essential water supply – was welcomed by WaterNSW.

Overall the bush fires had little impact on drinking water quality, the report determined, continuing to say thatSydney’s major water supply, Warragamba dam and its catchments, were proactively well prepared by land use planning, hazard reduction burning, and active membership of the local Bush Fire Management Committees.

WaterNSW CEO Andrew George said he was happy the report commended his team’s work during a period that challenged the state, and the nation.

“I want to acknowledge the incredible work of the RFS and the National Parks and Wildlife Service in protecting the Warragamba catchment and critical water infrastructure,” Mr George said.

“We look forward to working with Resilience NSW, RFS and other agencies to implement the recommendations to be even more prepared for future fire seasons.

“Without their expertise and tireless efforts, damage to the Warragamba special areas and critical water supply would have undoubtedly been more severe.”

However, the potential dangers to Sydney’s drinking water were not extinguished along with the fires.

Due to heavy rain on the Warragamba catchment shortly after the bushfires, there were severe concerns around impact that bushfire ash and run-off from the damaged catchment would have on water quality.

The inquiry found that WaterNSW successfully configured its water supply system to source water from alternative sources which helped avoid major impacts on water supply.

Media contact – Tony Webber - 0428613478

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