EBTAG Annual Workshop and Field Trip
October 12-13, 2017


Upper Santa Fe River Water Quality Monitoring to evaluate Fire Impacts: Pre-Burn Results

Daniel Cadol1, Zach Shephard1 and Alan Hook2

1Department of Earth and Environmental Science, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, 801 Leroy Place, Socorro, NM, 87801, Daniel.Cadol@nmt.edu

2City of Santa Fe, Water Resources & Conservation, NM

A planned project to thin a portion of the upper Santa Fe Municipal Watershed involves prescribed fire by aerial ignition in the absence of mechanical treatments. These burn treatments are an attempt to decrease fuel loads that could lead to dangerous wildfires and also to increase soil water availability per tree. Careful study of the impacts of these burn treatments on water quality and quantity will enable adaptive management over the course of the treatment and will inform managers in other regions of the effects of this potentially cost-effective technique.

We report baseline water quality data collected ahead of the prescribed burn treatments, as no burns have yet occurred upstream of our sample site, the Santa Fe River directly above McClure Reservoir. Water samples collected at roughly two week intervals between March 2016 and the present date via an ISCO automated sampler were analyzed for total dissolved (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC), as well as anions, dissolved metals, TDS, and hardness. In addition, we report a continuous record of parameters collected by a water quality sonde.

None of the parameters measured exceed EPA MCLs and general water chemistry is reflective of the dominant lithology in the watershed. Seasonal snowmelt dilutes most constituent concentrations in the spring, but DOC and POC tend to build up in soils during dry months and are flushed into the river during snowmelt. Daily cycles of DOC and POC are observed and are associated with the rise and fall of stream stage.

15th Annual Espanola Basin Technical Advisory Group Workshop and Field Trip
October 12-13, 2017, Santa Fe Convention Center