Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2015SD248G

Hydrologic Life Cycle Impact of Mountain Pine Bark Beetle Infestations

Institute: South Dakota
USGS Grant Number: 2015SD248G
Year Established: 2015 Start Date: 2015-09-01 End Date: 2018-08-30
Total Federal Funds: $250,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $250,000

Principal Investigators: James Stone, Scott Kenner, Heidi Sieverding

Abstract: Municipal water supplies across the western US are tied to surface water reservoirs and aquifers affected by the current mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae) epidemic. Both water quantity and quality are being impacted by MPB. Massive tree losses have changed watershed and runoff characteristics and stimulated aquifer responses. Decay of dead trees and needles have increased dissolved organic matter (DOM) and carbon (DOC), which when incorporated into municipal water supplies are precursors to toxic disinfection by-products (DBP). Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) degradation pathways appear significantly different than lodgepole pine (P. contorta) impacts observed at higher elevations of the western US. The life cycle assessment (LCA) impacts associated with enhanced drinking water treatment, field studies, and watershed models will be used to determine changes in the embodied energy of MPB-impacted drinking water. Embodied energy represents the total resources, emissions, etc. consumed or released to treat a given volume of water. When drinking source waters are impaired, it increases the energy, chemical, and other treatment requirements to remediate this water to a given standard, thus resulting in a greater embodied energy for that water unit. Spatial analysis of LCA and DOM/DOC results, in context of watershed, forest, and geologic characteristics will be developed to create an evaluation framework to assist in watershed management planning and decision strategies for MPB impacted forest and water resources.