Research Project Underway to Prepare Water Utilities for Wildfire Events

Firefighters with fire in background

Findings to help drinking water utilities increase treatment resilience to wildfires.

January 23, 2023
Brown and Caldwell

PORTLAND, Ore., January 17, 2023 — A multi-disciplinary team of utilities, academia, and consultants have convened to develop a study and publish guidance to improve water treatment resilience against the impacts of forest fires.

Critical to water security, forested watersheds provide 75 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater (Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations 2021) and supply drinking water for more than two-thirds of North American consumers (EPA 2019). The frequency and severity of forest fires have been increasing globally with warming temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns due to climate change. Wildfires can cause costly, long-term water treatment issues that push water treatment processes beyond their design and operational response capabilities.

Such issues include filtration effectiveness, disinfection efficacy, the elevation of disinfection by-product formation, and increased bioavailable phosphorus leading to problematic cyanobacterial/algal blooms.

Led by a principal research team of Lynn Stephens (Brown and Caldwell), Dr. Mac Gifford and Yone Akagi (Portland Water Bureau), and Dr. Monica Emelko (University of Waterloo), Water Research Foundation (WRF) project #5168 is funded by the foundation’s Emerging Opportunities Program and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB).

About The Water Research Foundation
The Water Research Foundation (WRF) is the leading research organization advancing the science of all water to meet the evolving needs of its subscribers and the water sector. WRF is a nonprofit, educational organization that funds, manages, and publishes research on the technology, operation, and management of drinking water, wastewater, reuse, and stormwater systems—all in pursuit of ensuring water quality and improving water services to the public. For more information, visit www.waterrf.org

About Brown and Caldwell
Headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., Brown and Caldwell is a full-service environmental engineering and construction services firm with 52 offices and more than 1,700 professionals across North America and the Pacific. For over 75 years, our creative solutions have helped municipalities, private industry, and government agencies successfully overcome their most challenging water and environmental obstacles. As an employee-owned company, Brown and Caldwell is passionate about exceeding our clients’ expectations and making a difference for our employees, our communities, and our environment. For more information, visit www.brownandcaldwell.com



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