Conservation Conversations Burning Series Part I: Wildfires and Water Quality

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Poor air quality and hazy skies. There’s often a bright orange hue and the occasional layer of ash coating your car and yard. These are some of the common impacts of wildfires we might experience when one is nearby. But have you ever considered how a wildfire might also impact the waterways? 

This is exactly the question that was addressed during our most recent Conservation Conversation with the help of our two invited speakers, Dr. Mussie Beyene, ORISE postdoctoral fellow with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Center for Public Health and Environmental Assessment and April Grippo, Deputy Director of Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Division of Water Resources.

Dr. Mussie provided a broad overview of wildfires in the United States, as understanding their history and recent increase in activity and impact is key to understanding their relationship to rivers and streams. This is a relationship that was discussed in more detail with April’s case study on the 2016 Gatlinburg Fires here in Tennessee. 

Be sure to watch the entire conversation here on Harpeth Conservancy’s YouTube channel (or below!) to learn more about the reasons why wildfires are increasing, who the angel of the water treatment plant saving was, and why water sampling post-fire event is essential to ensure improved water quality for our communities. 

Don’t miss November’s Conservation Conversation, where we’ll be furthering our Burning Series with Part II: The Impact of Backyard Burning on the Environment! Sign up here.