Floodwaters can carry a range of bacteria and chemicals into our rivers and waterways. In response to the recent floods, EPA has monitored 18 Victorian waterways at 37 locations to better understand the level of risk to human health and the environment.

On this page

Flood responsibilities by organisation


There are many health risks associated with floodwaters. Avoid contact if possible. If you feel unwell after exposure to a flood-impacted waterway, contact your doctor for advice.


What we are testing for

To understand the risk to human health from contact with floodwater, we are monitoring E. coli bacteria, and contaminants of potential concern (COPC) at targeted sites. You can download the test results, or keep reading for more information.


E. coli bacteria are one of the many groups of bacteria found in the intestines of humans and warm-blooded animals. They are a useful indicator of faecal contamination from sewage or animal manure. Levels of E. coli fluctuate. They often increase quickly after heavy rainfall due to runoff, but then decrease quickly. As rain is forecast, we expect these fluctuations to continue.

As rain is forecast, we expect bacteria fluctuations in our waterways to continue.

Contaminants of potential concern (COPC)

Some waterways have been tested for COPC. This includes metals and chemicals such as petroleum hydrocarbons and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Data collected to date indicates COPC are below levels of concern for recreational water use.


Monitoring locations across Victoria

Since 20 October we have monitored the water quality of 18 waterways at 37 locations across Victoria.

As we move from emergency response to recovery, we have reduced the number of testing locations. As at 22 December 2022, we are monitoring 24 locations. Our current focus is on waterways with high recreational use. Particularly where there is still standing water or other residual flood impacts.

Barwon River (Geelong, Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove Main Beach)

Monitoring for bacteria continues.

Broken River (Benalla and Shepparton)

Monitoring ended as floodwaters have receded.

Campaspe River (Echuca, Kyneton, and 2 sites in Rochester)

Monitoring ended as floodwaters have receded.

Goulburn River (Echuca, Seymour, Shepparton)

Monitoring for bacteria continues.

Lake Boga (Swan Hill)

Monitoring for bacteria has started.

Lake Eildon (Bonnie Doon)

Monitoring for bacteria to start soon.

Lake Eppalock (Coliban Pool and Glover Bay)

Monitoring for bacteria continues at Coliban Pool only.

Lake Nagambie (Nagambie)

Monitoring for bacteria continues.

Little Murray River (Swan Hill)

Monitoring has ended as floodwaters have receded.

Loddon River (Cairn Curran Reservoir, Bridgewater and Kerang)

Monitoring for bacteria continues at Cairn Curran Reservoir and Bridgewater only.

Ovens River (Wangaratta)

Monitoring for bacteria continues.

Maribyrnong River (Solomons Ford, Pipemakers Park, and Footscray rowing club)

Monitoring the waterway for bacteria continues, soil testing has ended.

Murray River (Yarrawonga, Cobram, Echuca, Swan Hill, and 3 sites in Mildura)

Monitoring for bacteria continues, with new sites added in Mildura.

Snowy River (Marlo and 2 sites in Orbost)

Monitoring has ended as floodwaters have receded.

Wimmera River (Horsham)

Monitoring for bacteria continues.


Locations where EPA tests the water quality along Victorian floodwaters

Note, this map has not yet been updated with the new monitoring locations. In the meantime, please refer to the list above.

How we choose sampling locations

EPA water quality monitoring locations changed as the effect of flooding moved through the state.

Initial sampling locations were chosen because of the potential risks as floodwaters entered townships like Echuca and Shepparton.

As flood waters have receded in many areas, our focus has shifted. Our sampling locations are now waterways with high recreational use, that still has standing water or other residual flood impacts. Many of these sites are in the north-east and north-west of Victoria.

Download the test results

We are testing water, sediment and soil samples from flood-impacted rivers to understand the level of risk to human health and the environment. Monitoring results are reviewed against health and environmental guideline values. We will update the results here, as soon as new data is available. 


About the soil data from the flood-impacted Maribyrnong River

As of 24th November, EPA received results from 135 soil samples taken from flood-impacted areas around Maribyrnong River. Results received from impacted gardens indicated contaminants are generally below levels of concern. Some of the residential areas with higher levels are likely due to legacy contamination issues.

The health risk of flood-impacted soil (from microorganisms like E. coli) is expected to decline naturally over time. To decrease the risks, residents should remove flood sediment where possible. If it cannot be removed, you should rake it into the soil. This will help break it down faster.


Always wear gloves during flood clean-up activities, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.


For more information on Victoria's water quality


Support from other agencies

Part of this sampling was done in conjunction with the Victorian State Emergency Service (VICSES) with support from Natural Hazards Research Australia


Reviewed 22 December 2022