Wildfires have the potential to have devastating effects on aquatic ecosystems and community drinking water supply through impacts on water quantity and quality. Given the recent shifts in the wildfire regime in many parts of the world, the implications of wildfire for aquatic ecosystem health and downstream water uses are increasingly concerning. Moreover, our post-fire land management decisions are likely to influence the hydrologic and water quality response. Here, we will present an overview of the range of effects of wildfires on streamflow, physical water quality (e.g., suspended sediment, turbidity, stream temperature), chemical water quality (e.g., nutrients, metals), biological water quality (e.g., algal productivity, invertebrates, fish) and discuss some general implications for downstream drinking water treatment. We will also present research results on how various post-fire management options may exacerbate or mitigate post-fire effects, which will also illustrate the need for future research in this area.
Kevin D. Bladon, PhD
Forest Ecohydrology and Watershed Science
Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management
College of Forestry
Oregon State University
Kevin Bladon is an Associate Professor of Forest Hydrology in the Department of Forest Engineering, Resources, and Management at Oregon State University. His research program is focused on understanding the range of effects from wildfires and post-fire forest management activities on hydrology, water quality, aquatic ecosystem health, and downstream community drinking water supply.