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How Does Groundwater Contamination Happen During Wildfires?

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 7, 2018 10:00:00 AM / by Eldorado Marketing

How Groundwater is Effected by WildfiresCurrently, Colorado is experiencing severe drought in the southern half of the state, which is resulting in large fires consuming huge swaths of forest. State officials are now concerned about water contamination in watersheds. What exactly should officials be concerned about?

According to the Journal of Pollution Effects and Control, "The chemical water quality problems that may arise following a forest fire may consist of increased production of macronutrients, micronutrients, basic and acidic ions, decreased oxygen level and increased biological demand. Some of these chemicals come from the disturbed and bare ground and others are produced from the burned plant material." In layman's terms, water will contain higher levels of harmful organic material that may be above federal and state safety thresholds. This burned plant material becomes sediment, which ends up in rivers and streams.

These Impurities Can Make Drinking Water Unsafe

According to research done at the University of Colorado Boulder, “A wildfire will have a tremendous effect on the vegetation that results in the mobilization of material in the form of sediments,” said Fernando Rosario-Ortiz, the study’s lead author. “Ultimately, those sediments become turbidity and drinking water utilities need to remove that turbidity in order to produce water that is safer for consumers to use.” To remove these impurities, municipalities need to use more chemicals to treat the water to make safe. This is costly, and adding more chemicals is not always the best solution for consumers.

Watershed Protection Efforts

Colorado has begun to invest more money in watershed protection in recent years. When the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires ripped through Colorado in 2012, the water provider Northern Water worked with the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Forest Service, and the Colorado Forest Service to begin the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. The mission of this project is to restore forest and watershed integrity while still retaining the hydropower facilities that are located in the Big Thompson reservoir. Combined with other investments in the state water system, 21,000 acres of land have undergone fuel treatments to reduce risk of watershed damage from future wildfires.

Fortunately, Not All Groundwater Is Impacted by Wildfires

As Colorado gets drier and wildfires become larger and more frequent, watershed protection becomes extremely important. Municipalities will be forced to continue the fight to keep our water safe. Fortunately, Eldorado Natural Spring Water comes from a very special place. Our spring water originates as rain and snow just east of the Continental Divide. It then enters an aquifer under Eldorado Springs and artesian pressure pushes water through sandstone, creating a natural filtering system.

Lastly, but arguably most important, Eldorado Natural Spring Water has a thick layer of clay just above the sandstone which is impervious to surface water. This is extremely beneficial as contaminants resulting from wildfires are repelled by this line of natural defense. The beloved source of Eldorado water truly is unique and magnificent.

 

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Topics: water conservation, Safe drinking water

Eldorado Marketing

Written by Eldorado Marketing