For today’s blog post I wanted to talk about some really interesting discussion I had in one of my engineering classes, in this case Water Resource engineering. So first off for some background one of the major early topics in this class is the delineation of watersheds, basically just drawing a line around a set of rivers following topographic lines to represent the area where if any drop of water falls that drop will end up in one of the rivers. This is very key to planning any kind of project around streams and rivers as it allows you to develop rainfall and flow rates for things such as floods and heavy rainfall events. During this discussion our professor brought up a case study about flood planning in Colorado. In it, a small town was wrecked by a flood one year even though they had many measures in place against such an event. As it turned out the previous year the upper valley of the river running through the town had experienced a major wildfire, decimating much of the plant life and interrupting much of the soil biology. As it turned out this majorly effected the flow rate and evapo-transpiration (rate at which plants take in water essentially) of the basin which in turn caused the amount of water entering the river to be much much higher than any previous year on record. This concept really kind of blew my mind, the idea that you can build something to withstand even 100 year event rainfalls but there are still sooo many other variables to take into account, something as simple as a fire destroying plant life to cause major flooding downstream, is simply incredible.