Many of us know wildfires can affect water quality. After a fire, soot and ash can be added to rainwater as it drains — and it drains more quickly and more thoroughly because trees and bushes don't absorb as much. The result is a much larger and much muddier stream of runoff than usual.
What many of us may not know is the extent of the damage. In Colorado Springs, storms are piling up runoff so fast that the city's water authority had to shut down a reservior — sedimentation has simply made the reservoir unusable.
As a result, the EPA is aiming to quickly lay down mulch and straw on muddy, unprotected areas to reduce runoff. There's so much area to cover, they're dropping mulch from helicopters.
See the story at Greenversations, the EPA blog.