General Bushfire Information
A hot and dry summer brings the risk of bushfires and it pays to be prepared. The information below will help you to know what to do before, during and after a bushfire.
Preparing for Bushfires Before They Happen
All Victorians should follow the advice for preparing their properties for bushfires, as outlined in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and Country Fire Authority's (CFA) fire survival guide.
The MFB and CFA both advise that mains water and power cannot be relied on to defend a property during a bushfire.
Bushfire Survival Plan
A fire ready kit will help you to assess the risk of fire on your property and to develop a strategy if a fire hits.
Access to water
Yarra Valley Water has prepared for the bushfire season and has tried and tested measures in place to maintain water supplies during bushfires. However, customers should not rely on mains water to defend their properties during a bushfire, as per advice from the MFB and CFA.
Our water systems are designed to meet normal domestic and commercial water needs. A large increase in water use and possible damage to the water supply network during a fire can cause a marked reduction in water pressure - or even no water being supplied to affected areas.
During a fire, it may not be possible or safe for us to enter the bushfire zone to manage and operate our infrastructure. This may prevent us from maintaining normal water pressure, quality or an uninterrupted supply to every household.
If there is a bushfire in our supply area, we will work with emergency services and bushfire-affected communities on how you can access alternative drinking water supplies.
What to do after a bushfire
The Department of Health (DHS) has a number of useful resources about what to do after a bushfire to protect your health and safety. This includes managing impacts to private water supplies and rain water tanks.
Rain water tanks and ash from bushfires
Ash from bushfires can affect rain water tanks. DHHS provides the following tips for safeguarding your water supply:
- Disconnect the downpipes to your tanks as soon as there is a risk of a bushfire. After a bushfire, only reconnect the downpipes when the roof has been cleaned (either manually or after a good flush of rain).
- If your water has been contaminated, the taste, colour or smell will change. If the water tastes, looks or smells unusual, do not drink it or give it to animals.
- Contaminated water should not be used for drinking or preparing food. Use an alternate supply for drinking.
- Tank water that is not suitable for drinking/food preparation can be used outdoors.
Fire retardant and firefighting water
DHHS provides the following tips for safeguarding your water supply:
Firefighting activities can use any available source of water, such as farm dams and rivers. This water is not suitable for drinking, if it enters your water tank do not drink the water.
If fire retardants have been deposited on your roof, these chemicals should not enter your tank if the down pipes are disconnected. Before you reconnect your down pipes, hose off the roof catchment area or wait for a heavy rain. This will prevent possible fire retardant entering your tank.
Do not drink the water if fire retardants have entered your water tank. High levels of ammonia and sulphate in water will make the water smell terrible and taste salty. It will not be suitable as drinking water for humans or animals (pets or livestock).
Fire retardant contaminated water can still be used for irrigation and firefighting purposes.
Boiling water does not remove fire retardants or other chemicals from your water.
If your water tank has been contaminated, it is strongly recommended that you get it professionally cleaned prior to re-using it for drinking purposes.
If you are affected by bushfires, we here to help.
Yarra Valley Water customers who are affected by bushfires and need financial assistance can contact us on 1800 994 789.
Fire Danger Rating
Check the fire danger rating in your area by visiting the CFA’s website.
Emergency Telephone Lines
Key Information Services