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Building water resilience in the face of cascading wildfire risks

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Severe wildfire is altering the natural and the built environment and posing risks to environmental and societal health and well-being, including cascading impacts to water systems and built water infrastructure. Research on wildfire-resilient water systems is growing but not keeping pace with the scale and severity of wildfire impacts, despite their intensifying threat. In this study, we evaluate the state of knowledge regarding wildfire-related hazards to water systems. We propose a holistic framework to assess interactions and feedback loops between water quality, quantity, and infrastructure hazards as determinants of post-fire water availability and access. Efforts to address the evolving threat of wildfires to water systems will require more interdisciplinary research on the complex relationships shaping wildfire’s threat to water availability and access. To support this, we need reliable long-term data availability, consistent metrics, greater research in shared contexts, more extensive research beyond the burn area, and multistakeholder collaboration on wildfire risks to water systems.

M.F. Belongia; C.Hammond Wagner; K.Quesnel Seipp; N.K. Ajami

Belongia MF, Wagner CHammond, Seipp KQuesnel, Ajami NK. Building water resilience in the face of cascading wildfire risks. Science Advances [Internet]. 2023 ;9(37). Available from:

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