Standard Active Last Updated: Sep 21, 2021 Track Document
ASTM E3312-21

Standard Guide for Mitigation of Wildfire Impact to Source Water Protection Areas and Risk to Water Utilities

Standard Guide for Mitigation of Wildfire Impact to Source Water Protection Areas and Risk to Water Utilities E3312-21 ASTM|E3312-21|en-US Standard Guide for Mitigation of Wildfire Impact to Source Water Protection Areas and Risk to Water Utilities Standard new BOS Vol. 11.05 Committee E50
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Significance and Use

4.1 This guide addresses issues related solely to strategies and the development of a plan to address wildfire-related physical and chemical changes to water resources in Source Water Protection Areas. This guide does not include specific advice on risk assessment. Mitigation strategies and planning may consist of a wide variety of actions by individuals, communities, or organizations to prepare for the impacts of wildfires on water quality and quantity in Source Water Protection Areas (see Guide E3136).

4.2 Source water protection activities not only help the utility identify risk, but they are also necessary to educate regulatory agencies, permitting authorities, and the community about the impacts that their actions can have on source water quality or quantity of the drinking water.

4.3 Example Users: 

4.3.1 Federal, tribal, state, or municipal facility staff and regulators, including departments of health, water, sewer, and fire;

4.3.2 Financial and insurance institutions;

4.3.3 Federal, tribal, state, or local land managers;

4.3.4 Public works staff, including water systems, groundwater supplies, surface water supplies, stormwater systems, wastewater systems, publicly owned treatment works, and agriculture water management agencies;

4.3.5 Consultants, auditors, state, municipal and private inspectors, and compliance assistance personnel;

4.3.6 Educational facilities such as experimental forests and nature preserves;

4.3.7 Non-regulatory government agencies, such as the military;

4.3.8 Wildlife management entities including government, tribal, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs);

4.3.9 Cities, towns, and counties, especially in developing climate vulnerability strategies and plans;

4.3.10 Commercial and residential real estate property developers, including redevelopers;

4.3.11 Non-profits, community groups, and land owners.

4.4 Coordination and cooperation must fit into the process for improving community preparedness.

4.4.1 Preparedness is based first on the community developing a broad awareness and understanding of the risks that are present locally. Next comes a community-wide evaluation of which community members or assets are most vulnerable to risks, the mechanisms or pathways of risks, and the existing capabilities to address those risks should a wildfire occur (see Guide E3241). The capabilities being evaluated include more than the ability of the first responders or wildland firefighters to take actions. It includes the capabilities of all community members to take appropriate actions.

4.4.2 All communities have capability gaps when evaluated against the risks present in the community. Strategic planning aims to fill those capability gaps with prioritization for efforts developed by the community members. Again, improved preparedness is the goal, not simply focusing on response capacity. A wildfire preparedness plan is a good first step.

4.4.3 Filling capability gaps requires the use of all the regulatory and social tools available to the community and its partners. All community members have a stake in accident prevention, consequence reduction, and improved collective ability to communicate and respond. Improvements are made through increased awareness, education, training, cooperative programs, and practice. Addressing the identified capability gaps can include a broad range of options such as accident prevention to creation of expectations for the actions of community members to be able to shelter, evacuate, and provide aid to others. Stakeholder engagement is critical to successfully closing capability gaps. This could include forest management, clearing fuel from around structures, and upgrading water filtration systems.

4.4.4 Accomplishing these tasks is a community-level activity. While it might be led by an emergency manager or local emergency planning committee, the key to successful preparedness planning is broad coordination and cooperation involving all community members (see Guide E3241).


1.1 Overview—Wildfires pose a significant risk to water utilities as they can cause contaminants of concern to be released into surface water and groundwater supplies (1).2 This can endanger human health if systems were not designed to manage these contaminant loads.

1.2 Purpose—Mitigation measures of wildfire effects on sediment loads, trace minerals, and contaminants of concern on runoff in a Source Water Protection Area (2) is an expanding area of study that does not have a full set of regulations at the federal or state level. This guide provides public-sector and private-sector land managers and water utility operators details on how to assess the potential impacts of wildfires on watersheds and measures that can be employed to minimize or abate those impacts prior to a wildfire occurring or after it occurs.

1.2.1 This guide supplements existing watershed and Source Water Protection Area guidance.

1.2.2 This guide will recommend fuel management prior to a wildfire, suppression strategies during a wildfire, and mitigation opportunities for both forests and water treatment systems after the wildfire. It will also support collaboration between involved stakeholders (see Fig. 1 below).

FIG. 1 Place-based characteristics for consideration when assessing threats to water supplies and treatment due to a wildfire (adapted from (3)).

 Place-based characteristics for consideration when assessing threats to water supplies and treatment due to a wildfire (adapted from ). Place-based characteristics for consideration when assessing threats to water supplies and treatment due to a wildfire (adapted from ).

1.2.3 The purpose of this guide is to provide a series of options that water utilities, landowners, and land managers can implement to limit the chance of a wildfire, specifically in a drinking water watershed, and mitigation opportunities to protect drinking water after a wildfire occurs. This guide encourages consistent management of forests to limit wildfire risks to water resources. The guide presents practices and recommendations based on the best available science to provide institutional and engineering actions to reduce the likelihood of a wildfire and the potentially disastrous consequences. It presents available technologies, institutional controls, and engineering controls that can be implemented by utilities, landowners, and land managers seeking to mitigate the risk of wildfire in a source watershed. With climate change wildfires are an increasing hazard that can affect drinking water supplies. Often water utilities are not prepared for this risk and this guide seeks to support advanced planning.

1.2.4 This guide ties into the ASTM E50 standards series related to environmental risk assessment and management.

1.2.5 The guide does not provide risk assessment, per se, but may help set priorities for creating a wildfire resilient watershed.

1.3 Objectives—The objectives of this guide are to identify the risks of a source watershed o forest to wildfire and identify actions that can be taken to manage those risks. The guide encourages users to set priorities based upon their associated risk. The guide encourages the us to develop long-term solutions for future wildfire risks.

1.4 Limitations of this Guide—Given the different types of organizations that may wish to use this guide, as well as variations in state and local regulations, it is not possible to address all the relevant circumstances that might apply to a particular area. This guide uses generalized language and examples for the user. If it is not clear to the user how to apply standards to their specific circumstances, users should seek assistance from qualified professionals. Risks may vary depending on the entity evaluating the risk. This guide does not take a position on the causes or science of extreme weather, natural disasters, or changing environmental conditions.

1.5 The guide uses references and information from many cited sources on the control, management, and reduction of pre- and post-fire impacts.

1.6 Several national and international agencies served as sources of information on existing and anticipated levels and management of wildfire risks to drinking water supplies including: the Water Services Association of Australia; the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

1.7 This guide recommends reference to current regulatory information about risks gathered from various state agencies, such as departments of environmental protection and water resources boards.

1.8 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. Adaptation and resiliency measures, however, may be consistent with, and complementary to, other safety measures.

1.9 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

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Book of Standards Volume: 11.05
Developed by Subcommittee: E50.05
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.1520/E3312-21
ICS Code: 13.060.01; 13.220.01