FREE WEBINAR: Wildfires and Resulting Impacts to Water Bodies Used as Drinking Water Sources

September 29, 2020 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Detritus material in forest watersheds is the major terrestrial source of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and disinfection byproduct (DBP) precursors in water bodies used as drinking water sources and is also a fuel that can ignite wildfires. In these watersheds, hot temperatures and dry conditions increase the likelihood of high-severity wildfires. To help reduce this risk, low-severity prescribed burning is used as a forest management practice to reduce fuel loads from forest floor detritus material. In either high- or low-severity fires, DOM exported to source waters from managed watersheds is likely to have different characteristics and treatability compared to DOM exported from unburned watersheds. These potential source water quality changes may require that drinking water utilities adapt their treatment processes to account for these changes. Modeling and decision support tools can help explore treatability and adaptation strategies for these impacted water systems.

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Presentation 1: Wildfire Impacts on Drinking Water Quality

This presentation will provide information on the impacts of high- and low-severity wildfires on dissolved organic matter concentrations in water bodies used as drinking water sources and DBP formation during treatment.

Dr. Alex ChowAlex Chow, Ph.D. Dr. Chow is a professor of biogeochemistry in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation, with a joint appointment in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Science at Clemson University. His research focuses on watershed perturbation, such as wildfire, flooding, and land use changes on exports of dissolved organic matter and disinfection byproduct precursors. Dr. Chow holds a Ph.D. in hydrologic science from University of California, Davis.

Dr. Tanju KaranfilTanju Karanfil, Ph.D. Dr. Karanfil is a professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Science and is also a vice president of research at Clemson University. His research focuses on drinking water quality, including disinfection byproducts, water treatability, and other emerging contaminants.  Dr. Karanfil holds a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from University of Michigan.

Presentation 2: Decision Support for Drinking Water Utilities Impacted by Wildfire

This presentation will discuss watersheds’ response to post-fire sedimentation and will provide information on how water utilities can modify treatment plant operations to avoid disinfection byproducts. The 2012 High Park fire in Fort Collins, Colorado will be used as a real-world example to demonstrate the methods.

Dr. Joseph KasprzykJoseph Kasprzyk, Ph.D. Dr. Kasprzyk is an associate professor in the Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research focuses on multi-objective decision making and model diagnostics for engineering problems in the areas of water resources planning and management, environmental engineering applications, and advancing methodological contributions to decision making and optimization under uncertainty. Dr. Kasprzyk holds a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Penn State University.
Dr. Fernando Rosario-OrtizFernando Rosario-Ortiz, Ph.D. Dr. Rosario-Ortiz is a professor of environmental engineering and the director of the Environmental Engineering Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. His research centers around environmental chemical processes and implications of forest fires on water quality and treatment. Dr. Rosario-Ortiz holds a D.Env. in environmental science and engineering from UCLA.