For many communities in the West, the water that flows out of kitchen faucets and bathroom showerheads starts high up in the mountains, as snowpack tucked under canopies of spruce and pine trees.

Kyle Blount.

Collaborative groups have sprung up in response to fires throughout the West. Cities facing impending drinking water problems can often be the first to sign up for cooperative watershed management, said Kyle Blount, a postdoctoral research assistant in the School of the Environment at Washington State University Vancouver. He co-authored a case study, conducted while earning his PhD at the Colorado School of Mines, on the High Park Fire response, and the coalition’s creation.

“A good bit of the funding initially came from Fort Collins and Greeley because that’s where they get their drinking water and that is a primary concern,” Blount said.

“Obviously the immediate impact of the fire and the loss of property and the occasional loss of life is severe and significant, but there’s an ongoing impact to the water supply as well,” he said.

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