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Water 2019, 11(3), 533; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11030533

Assessment of the Decadal Impact of Wildfire on Water Quality in Forested Catchments

School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia
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Received: 30 August 2018 / Revised: 11 March 2019 / Accepted: 11 March 2019 / Published: 14 March 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Water Quality and Ecosystems)
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Abstract

Wildfire can have significant impacts on hydrological processes in forested catchments, and a key area of concern is the impact upon water quality, particularly in catchments that supply drinking water. Wildfire effects runoff, erosion, and increases the influx of other pollutants into catchment waterways. Research suggests that suspended sediment and nutrient levels increase following wildfire. However, past studies on catchment water quality change have generally focused on the short term (1–3 years) effects of wildfire. For appropriate catchment management, it is important to know the long-term effect of wildfire on catchment water quality and the recovery process. In this study, a statistical analysis was performed to examine the effect of 2001/2002 Sydney wildfire on catchment water quality. This research is particularly important, since the catchments studied provide drinking water to Sydney. Linear mixed models were used in this study in an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA)-type change detection approach to assess the effect of wildfire. We used both burnt and unburnt catchments to aid the interpretation of the results and to help disentangle the effects of natural climate variation, as well as of the wildfire. The results of this study showed persistent long-term (10-year) effects of wildfire, including increases in total suspended sediment concentrations (64% higher than in unburnt catchments), total nitrogen concentrations (48% higher), and total phosphorus (40% higher). View Full-Text
Keywords: wildfire; change detection; water quality; linear mixed models; total suspended sediment; total phosphorus; total nitrogen wildfire; change detection; water quality; linear mixed models; total suspended sediment; total phosphorus; total nitrogen
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Yu, M.; Bishop, T.F.; Van Ogtrop, F.F. Assessment of the Decadal Impact of Wildfire on Water Quality in Forested Catchments. Water 2019, 11, 533.

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