Safety and first aid

Recreational waters and fishing after a flood

After a flood, recreational waters including lakes, rivers, estuaries and beaches are likely to be contaminated with sewage and chemicals.

Recreational waters may also have dangerous, unpredictable currents, fast-flowing water, underwater hazards, and floating objects, such as trees.

Never swim in or attempt to drive through floodwaters.

Depending on the extent of the flooding, you may need to avoid swimming until the local government says it is safe to do so.

Read more tips for healthy swimming.


Do not eat fish from floodwaters or flood impacted rivers where there is known or potential contamination by wastewater, animal waste and other contaminants such as agricultural or industrial chemicals.

Fish caught in areas that are downstream from the flooded areas should be rinsed with clean water before being scaled and fileted.

Cook fish thoroughly. Avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked fish.


Shellfish includes oysters, mussels, clams, pipis, scallops, cockles, and razor clams.

After a flood, shellfish in waterways including rivers, lakes, estuaries and the ocean are likely to be contaminated with harmful microorganisms and toxins due to wastewater runoff.

Do not eat shellfish from flood-affected waters as they can make you sick.

Last reviewed: 23-10-2023
Environmental Health Directorate

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Information about a service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace professional advice. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified professional for answers to their questions.

Questions? Ask your local government environmental health services