One of civilizations first discoveries and tools.
Now we face it in another context, each year we suffer fires that harm our environment for years and it seems we have no cure.
A watershed is an area of land that drains to specific location. Usually fires happen in the higher elevations of a watershed where there is more rainfall and vegetation.
As the vegetation is removed by fire, bare soil is exposed to the elements. Just the impact of a raindrop on bare soil is enough to dislodge particles and start the erosion process.
As the loose particles are transported downstream, they dislodge other particles and the problem grows quickly. Fast water scours, the best example of a scour is the Grand Canyon where literally millions of tons of soil have been displaced by moving water.
These soil particles cause turbidity and those total suspended solids cause harm to aquatic life by clogging gills and depleting available oxygen.
Sometimes it takes years for vegetation to grow back to a sufficient ground cover, during these days a significant rain event could cause a loss of property.
The best and most cost effective approach to most problems is prevention. Preventing fires will help protect the entire watershed where countless birds, plants, fish, animals, and people depend on clean water for survival.
The Northern California city suffered one of the deadliest fires in state history. In the aftermath, it now confronts a costly pollution problem likely caused when melted plastic pipes released chemicals into the water supply.