Wildfires occur frequently in the Colorado Front Range and can alter the hydrological response of watersheds, yet little information exists on the impact of flow regime and storm events on post-wildfire water quality. The flow regime in the region is characterized by base-flow conditions during much of the year and increased runoff during spring snowmelt and summer convective storms. The impact of snowmelt and storm events on stream discharge and water quality was evaluated for about a year after a wildfire near Boulder, Colorado, USA. During spring snowmelt and low-intensity storms, differences in discharge and turbidity at sites upstream and downstream from the burned areas were minimal. However, high-intensity convective storms resulted in dramatic increases in discharge and turbidity at sites downstream from the burned area. This study highlights the importance of using high-frequency sampling to assess accurately wildfire impacts on water quality downstream.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of flow regime on stream turbidity and suspended solids after wildfire, Colorado Front Range
IAHS Redbook; Proceedings of a conference held in Banff, 11-14 June 2012