Pine Gulch Fire Impact on Water Quality

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — Firefighters have been battling the Pine Gulch Fire for over a month. But now that most of the fire is contained, they’re switching to cleaning up and repairing damage done by fire fighting.

“We are taking out hoses, loading up equipment and getting it out of there,” says Tracy LeClair, the Public Information Officer for the Pine Gulch Fire.

Wildfires and the act of fighting them can impact the area burned in a number of ways. “If we created berms or if we drug trenches, we’ll try to level those out as well,” says LeClair.

Wild fires can also compromise the quality of water in watersheds near by. “We are concerned with wildfires, about the as that is basically attracted to a water source,” says Andrea Lopez, the External Affairs Manager for the Ute Water Conservancy District.

Experts say wild fires burn vegetation that retain water and hold soil in place, and that can lead to erosion.

“It becomes very difficult for a water provider to treat ash in a watershed because a lot of our water filtration systems aren’t set up to treat ash,” says Lopez.

And while the water is thoroughly filtered and tested before it comes through to our taps, experts say residents should contact their water provider if they find anything off about their water.

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