Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Sciences


Chemistry and Biochemistry

First Reader/Committee Chair

Alford, Jennifer


Southern California has experienced prolonged drought conditions that have supported frequent wildfires that adversely impact ecosystems, natural resources, and human development. A primary consequence of these events is the impact on water quality and quantity. Of equal concern is evaluating how diverse land use configurations within a watershed can alter the physio-chemical properties of headwater reaches where drought and wildfire conditions are prevalent. To better understand the extent to which wildfires impact water quality and quantity across a headwater watershed, this study investigates wildfire impacts from the 2021 South Fire to Lytle Creek, a headwater stream of the Santa Ana River Basin located within the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California. In situ parameter analysis in this study includes dissolved oxygen (D.O.), temperature, flow rate, and conductivity. Additional laboratory testing includes turbidity, pH, nitrate (NO3-), ammonium (NH4+), E. coli, total coliform, and enterococci. Lytle Creek was monitored during the dry and wet seasons and in burned and unburned sampling sites. This study found that there were no significant differences between the water quality of the sampling sites located within the burned stream (LC2) compared to the sampling site of the adjacent stream (LC1). However, it should be noted that although there was a fire within the LC2 sampling site and multiple parameters had sampling events that exceeded the standards and objectives, impacts did not persist across the study period, indicating that the hydrological system was able to recover from the wildfire. This can be best described because of the South Fire’s low burn severity to moderate-low burn severity and the natural landscape where the South Fire occurred.