Wildfires, Runoff and Watersheds, Oh My!

Although wildland fires are a natural part of the ecosystem in Southern California, the number of major wildfires impacting our region is steadily increasing which can negatively affect our regional watersheds. In Riverside County there are three major watersheds: Santa Margarita River, Santa Ana River and Whitewater River watersheds.

In the aftermath of a wildfire flooding and erosion can have immediate and long-term impacts to our important watersheds.

We wanted to share with you some facts and figures on how wildfires affect our watersheds and what steps you can take to make a positive difference.

How Wildfires Can Affect Watersheds

  • Approximately 80 percent of the fresh water supplies in the U.S. originate on forested land.
  • An intense fire coupled with a powerful rain-producing storm can affect the land in and around watersheds through erosion which can potentially degrade the water supply.
  • Intense rainstorms in burned watersheds create large sediment and ash runoffs which affect water treatment plant operations, irrigation systems, drinking water supplies, and aquatic life.
  • The effects of erosion following a wildfire can be seen within a 100-mile radius.

Do Your Part and Help Decrease Watershed Pollution

  • Be mindful and don’t litter.
  • Not only does trash make our communities unattractive, litter will eventually wash into our waterways which exacerbates post-wildfire runoff and the negative impacts to watershed health.
  • Volunteer for a community cleanup event. Every little bit helps!

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