Journal article

2019-2020 Bushfire impacts on sediment and contaminant transport following rainfall in the Upper Murray River catchment

Tapas K Biswas, Fazlul Karim, Anu Kumar, Scott Wilkinson, Juan Guerschman, Gavin Rees, Paul McInerney, Brenton Zampatti, Andrew Sullivan, Petter Nyman, Gary J Sheridan, Klaus Joehnk



During the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season, large expanses (~47%) of agricultural and forested land in the Upper Murray River catchment of southeastern (SE) Australia were burned. Storm activity and rainfall following the fires increased sediment loads in rivers, resulting in localized fish kills and widespread water-quality deterioration. We collected water samples from the headwaters of the Murray River for sediment and contaminant analysis and assessed changes in water quality using long-term monitoring data. A robust runoff routing model was used to estimate the effect of fire on sediment loads in the Murray River. Peak turbidity in the Murray River reached values of up to 4200 neph..

View full abstract

University of Melbourne Researchers


Funding Acknowledgements

The study was funded by the CSIRO Land and Water through its appropriation funding arrangement. The authors acknowledge a contribution from Steve Marvanek of CSIRO for GIS data processing and John Pengelly for laboratory analysis. We also acknowledge WaterNSW and Victoria DELWP for water quality and flow data and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology for meteorological data.