Biosolids applications affect runoff water quality following forest fire

J Environ Qual. 2001 Sep-Oct;30(5):1528-32. doi: 10.2134/jeq2001.3051528x.


Soil erosion and nutrient losses are great concerns following forest wildfires. Biosolids application might enhance revegetation efforts while reducing soil erodibility. Consequently, we applied Denver Metro Wastewater District composted biosolids at rates of 0, 40, and 80 Mg ha(-1) to a severely burned, previously forested site near Buffalo Creek, CO to increase plant cover and growth. Soils were classified as Ustorthents, Ustochrepts, and Haploborols. Simulated rainfall was applied for 30 min at a rate of 100 mm h(-1) to 3- x 10-m paired plots. Biosolids application rates did not significantly affect mean total runoff (p < 0.05). Sediment concentrations were significantly greater (p < 0.05) from the control plots compared with the plots that had received the 80 Mg biosolids ha(-1) rate. Biosolids application rate had mixed effects on water-quality constituents; however, concentrations of all runoff constituents for all treatment rates were below levels recommended for drinking water standards, except Pb. Biosolids application to this site increased plant cover, which should provide erosion control.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Conservation of Natural Resources*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fires*
  • Particle Size
  • Plants
  • Rain
  • Soil*
  • Trees*
  • Water Movements
  • Water Pollutants / analysis*


  • Soil
  • Water Pollutants