Project #5168

Enhancing Drinking Water Treatment Resilience to Wildfire Events

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Harry Zhang, PhD, PE
Brown and Caldwell
Climate Change
Integrated Planning & Water Management
Source Water Protection


Wildfires can cause costly long-term treatment issues by challenging coagulant dosing, filtration effectiveness, and disinfection efficacy, elevating disinfection by-product formation, and increasing bioavailable phosphorus leading to cyanobacterial/algal blooms and requiring algal toxin removal. Overall, these challenges may last for several years or more.

This project’s research objective is to provide guidance to drinking water utilities to increase treatment resilience to wildfires. Pilot-scale and side-by-side comparisons of treatment strategies, specifically comparing conventional treatment with pre-ozonation and biofiltration compared to conventional treatment with pre-chlorination and filtration, will be conducted to provide design and operational recommendations that can be made in treatment and monitoring, so utilities can more effectively respond to a post-fire scenario. Research Partner: City of Portland Water Bureau.