(KUTV) — Wildfire dangers remain high coming into the summer season. With several blazes currently burning across the state, we’re learning more about the impact these large fires have on water supplies.
While this isn’t a new problem, the scope of it has widened because this year’s wildfire season is expected to be severe.
Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey said about half of the nation’s water supply comes from forested lands.
When wildfires come through those lands, they destroy forest vegetation which would usually help filter and slow down water coming from rain and snow.
When that vegetation is gone, it can no longer do that and water instead goes directly into the soil, along with any wildfire ash left behind.
Sheila Murphy is a research hydrologist with USGS and said this is the main problem they see and study during the wildfire season.
We have the storms that carry sediment and other contaminants into the water supply”, explained Murphy.
She said wildfires can also change the chemistry of the soil, which causes water to run off much quicker, leading to severe flooding.
Murphy encouraged the community to keep tabs on where their water supply comes from so you can support and keep track of work and advancements happening, especially during fire season.