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SRP, ASU collaboration gauges benefits of forest thinning

Salt River Project and Arizona State University have come up with a new way to estimate the watershed benefits of forest thinning.

SRP delivers water to about 2.5 million residents in the Phoenix metro area. SRP Water and Forest Sustainability Senior Manager Elvy Barton said that water is gathered from about 8.3 million acres of forested watershed.

“The greatest risk of us not being able to deliver on our mission is catastrophic wildfire impacting those watersheds," Barton said. 

She added that post-wildfire runoff reduces the capacity of SRP reservoirs.

"So not only impacting water delivery infrastructure, filling up our reservoirs with sediment, but also degrading the water that we deliver to our customers," Barton said. 

Early results show thinning forests creates better moisture in the soil and more surface runoff.

Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.