The City of Steamboat Springs and Mount Werner Water & Sanitation District received a Colorado Water Plan grant to develop a Critical Community Watershed Wildfire Protection Plan (CWP2) for the Fish Creek Basin. This plan looks before, during and after a wildfire to protect the critical drinking water water supply and infrastructure as well as overall watershed health.
Why Does It Matter?
Wildfires burn vegetation and alter soil properties, causing rainfall to run-off rather than soak in to the soil. With the loss of vegetation and root systems, landscapes can easily erode. Consequently, rainfall in burned watersheds often produces floods that carry debris, sediment, ash, and contaminants into water sources.
This has implications for water supply. Sediment fills reservoirs, decreasing storage capacities. Debris, sediment, ash and contaminants lower water quality, making the water more difficult and expensive to treat and make safe for drinking and cause unwanted tastes and odors.
Julie Baxter Water Resources Manager City of Steamboat Springs 970-871-8267 Email Julie Baxter
With the increasing frequency and severity of wildfires resulting from the cumulative impacts of climate change, overgrown forests, and pest infestations, managers of surface water supply systems in forested watersheds must address wildfire impacts when planning for water security
Steamboat Springs’ water is sourced from the Fish Creek basin, a heavily forested watershed, vulnerable to wildfire.
The basin provides over 90 percent of the community’s drinking water; and, the direct drainage to the Fish Creek Filtration Plant (FCFP) is located entirely within Routt National Forest (RNF).