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Sean Murphy, who earned his BS from the SUNY ESF ERE department, was the recipient of a Dow Sustainability Fellowship to work on alleviating health problems in Indian slums. Here is the beginning of one report by Sean, with a link to a blog site where you can read more …

“There is a never ending chatter of honks, horns, and beeps from vehicles declaring urgency or simply exchanging pleasantries as my teammates and I are shuttled through busy downtown streets, linked between daily meetings or chauffeured to a magnificent landmark in one of India’s iconic three-wheeled automatic rickshaws. Apprehensive from the overcrowded streets filled with impatient motorists and doubtful of the city’s traffic laws, I lean forward to study the world as it passes and am reminded there is method in the madness. There are children playing cricket in an open lot, merchants sprawled over the sidewalks selling art, clothing, and jewelry, and vendors waiting on corners with panipuri (fried bread filled with flavored water), pav bhaji (vegetable curry), ganne ka ras (sugarcane juice) and other wonderfully aromatic snacks. Homes and shops wedged one on top of another, built of crude materials and standing awry like that of Seussian architecture, colonize much of the valued land. The skyline is sown with corporate and residential high-rises, though many are delayed in construction, windowless, and awaiting occupation.

Indian megacities face several unique challenges in providing even basic needs and services, notably housing, water, and waste management, for one of the largest and most dense populations in the world. Recently launched in 2014, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission) is a government campaign and nationwide call to action for a cleaner, healthier, and safer India. The program’s goals are to improve solid waste management through proper disposal, reuse, and recycling, eliminate open defecation through construction of sanitation facilities, and generate public awareness through health education across all twenty-nine states. Achieving these ambitions will be complicated in an urban environment where core problems are magnified in scale, and particularly daunting in Mumbai, where half of the city’s population is estimated to live in slums.”

Read more at Slumdog Engineer.

Sean has completed his assignment, and is now working for the US Indian Health Service, working with Native American communities in South Dakota as they design technical and financial solutions to problems related to water and sanitation.

This is a dispatch from Theodore Endreny’s sabbatical in Italy….

Not only does Portugal define mainland Europe’s western edge, it is also on the cutting edge of Europe’s urban renewal and sustainable landscape design. The country can showcase stunning graffiti and green infrastructure installations that serve environmental, social, and economic goals. Portugal’s portfolio of projects, and the leadership team helping design them, were on display during the early May 2016 workshop, “Design and implementation of urban green infrastructure: adaptation to global change”, held at the University of Beira Interior in Covilha, in the Star Mountain Range. As part of this workshop, I was invited to deliver a seminar on our i-Tree Hydro tool, explaining the new soil water balance routines; these were primarily developed by SUNY ESF ERE PhD student Tom Taggart to respond to grey infrastructure pipes that drain and leak water, as well as green infrastructure devices such as rain gardens, rain barrels, and green roofs.

Green Infrastructure Workshop Panel members. This group of includes an economist, landscape architect, architect, city and regional planner, geotechnical engineer, hydraulic engineer, civil engineer, and an ecological engineer.

Green Infrastructure Workshop Panel members. This group of includes an economist, landscape architect, architect, city and regional planner, geotechnical engineer, hydraulic engineer, civil engineer, and an ecological engineer.

University of Beira Interior engineering department, home to the workshop, featuring tiles from the building's wool factory origins

University of Beira Interior engineering department, home to the workshop, featuring tiles from the building’s wool factory origins

The workshop was strategically small, providing greater impact by providing attendees a rare chance for long and detailed conversations on the challenges and opportunities for sustainable green infrastructure design. The organizers had arranged for participation and talks by a wide range of professionals, both academics and practitioners, and this interdisciplinary mix created several aha moments for participants as we reached beyond our own discipline and learned from our colleagues. The mix of professionals included economists, city and regional planners, landscape architects, architects, geotechnical engineers, civil engineers, water engineers, environmental scientists, and botanists. The students attending the workshop, and the panel discussion, were provided with very practical training. For example, I presented the steps to use the i-Tree Hydro tool, with details on how to obtain and process input data of land cover, precipitation, and terrain elevation, which is used to calculate a topographic index for predicting wet areas that may benefit from more tree plantings. Dr. Cristina Fael explained how to design river flood plains so that they provide riparian forest habitat as well as convey new, likely larger, flood waters due to climate change. And Carlos Ribas explained how to install a green roof that spans about 15 soccer fields, but also includes a variety of slopes, elevations, and functions.

Carlos Ribas on the 8.4 ha green roof he designed fro Alcantara Wastewater Treatment Plant in Lisbon.

Carlos Ribas on the 8.4 ha green roof he designed fro Alcantara Wastewater Treatment Plant in Lisbon.

Field tours added to the workshop learning. In Covilha, installations of green infrastructure are fitting into a streetscape that has historic tiled buildings and avant-garde graffiti, both of which celebrate the town’s wool heritage as home to the Royal Textile Factory. In such a setting, street trees and vegetated walls would need to installed such that they enhance, and not obstruct visibility of the graffiti and tiles.

Covilha wool themed graffiti set alongside church tiles from the town's 19th century era as Royal Textile Factory.

Covilha wool themed graffiti set alongside church tiles from the town’s 19th century era as Royal Textile Factory.

Covilha wool themed graffiti celebrating the role of the sheep in sustaining the town's economic past, its eco-tourist future.

Covilha wool themed graffiti celebrating the role of the sheep in sustaining the town’s economic past, its eco-tourist future.

Covilha wool themed graffiti showcasing spinning, and the many threads connecting the society and economy.

Covilha wool themed graffiti showcasing spinning, and the many threads connecting the society and economy, with fresh laundry drying overnight in front of this mural.

In Lisbon, the tour focused on the green roof for the Alcantara Wastewater Treatment Plant, designed by Carlos Ribas and Joao Nunes. This green infrastructure project performs multiple functions, including decreasing the stormwater runoff burden of the plant, the odor of the plant, and the break in landscape connectivity between hill and river initially incurred by the plant, as well as provides a picnic site for the plant workers and an inspirational aesthetic for the tens of thousands of commuters. Back in the University of Beira Interior, a tour of the engineering department featured their laboratory flume used to represent a meandering river and design sustainable floodplains. This laboratory can contribute to analysis of green infrastructure as linear systems, connecting urban to rural landscapes, and providing corridors to support biodiversity and human well being.

Contact information: Dr. Theodore Endreny, te@esf.edu

Acknowledgement: The travel for project has been supported in part by the Portugal Fulbright Commission, the University of Beira Interior, and a USDA Forest Service i-Tree award. The preparation leading to the workshop was supported by the U.S. – Italy Fulbright Commission and Parthenope University through a Fulbright Scholar grant to Theodore Endreny to serve as Distinguished Chair in Environmental Science at Parthenope University in Naples, Italy, and by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry through a sabbatical leave to Theodore Endreny.

This is a dispatch from Theodore Endreny’s sabbatical in Italy….

The urban areas of our planet are an extremely popular living environment, and the simple act of maintaining or increasing tree cover can profoundly improve urban sustainability [0]. The global urban area covers only 4% of our land, yet it contains 60% of our population. The metabolism of these areas is enormous, with each person needing between 1 and 10 hectares of non-urban area to support their resource consumption and waste generation [1]. Urban trees can help reduce the ecological footprint of this metabolism and improve ecosystem carrying capacity by delivering an array of ecosystem services. These services include production and regulation, such as growing nutritious foods and maintaining a livable climate, as well as supporting and cultural services such as biodiversity and peace of mind [2]. With urban areas containing such a high density of residents, an urban tree has the potential to improve the well-being of a large number of people. Our i-Tree research team develops tools for measuring the benefits of urban tree cover in order to help communities manage their sustainable well-being. In January 2016 we initiated a collaborative urban metabolism research effort with Italian scholars (led by Professor Sergio Ulgliati of Parthenope University) to collect data on tree cover and potential tree cover in a set of global urban areas, predict the associated ecosystem services, and investigate whether trends in tree cover and their services scale geographically or demographically. Our urban areas include several in Italy, such as Naples were the group is stationed, as well as the global megacities (Tokyo, Beijing, Istanbul, Cairo, London, New York, Manila, etc), defined as areas with at least 10 million human inhabitants.

This report presents the first step in our urban metabolism research, which was to select a method for determining the percent of tree cover, and potential tree cover, in our set of global urban areas. Although there is no international standard for land cover classification, most land cover maps limit classes to landscape units and fail to explicitly include trees in urban landscape units, limiting them to forested units [3]. Ecological engineers will often use such landscape units, and make inferences about associated ecosystem structures (e.g., trees) and services (e.g., wood and fuel products, climate regulation) they need in their project designs (see Figure 1). However, in urban landscapes there is no explicit estimate of the tree cover and structure, and the assumption of zero tree cover ignores the substantial value contributed by existing urban trees [4].

Illustration of landscapes and their associated ecosystem services, where parks and gardens are an extremely valuable sub-unit providing services in the Urban landscape.

Figure 1. Illustration of landscapes and their associated ecosystem services, where parks and gardens are an extremely valuable sub-unit providing services in the Urban landscape. [credit Millennium Assessment]

Our research method involved testing several products to estimate tree cover in Naples, Italy, defined by its political boundary to have an area of 118 km2. By testing several land cover classification products we could determine if there were differences in the estimated area between products, and then identify which product would be best for our classification of trees in the set of global urban areas. We considered the following products, NLCD, CORINE, MODIS, MAGLC, i-Tree Canopy, each explained below: In the US, the 30 m raster National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD) from LandSAT is a common land cover product that classifies urban areas as 21 – 24 (developed areas of low to high density), and forested areas as 41-43 (deciduous, evergreen, and mixed forests). In Europe, the polygon CORdination of INformation on the Environment (CORINE) land cover dataset is a common land cover product that classifies uses the class of artificial areas, and sub-classes of continuous or discontinuous urban fabric, which can include many sub-classes of residential cover, as well as several forest area classes such as agro-forest, broadleaf, coniferous, and mixed forests. Global datasets include the 500 m raster Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Land Cover product (MCD12Q1) that has a single urban class and five forest classes (evergreen needle and broad, deciduous needle and broad, and mixed). The Millennium Assessment global land cover (MAGLC) used similar data to create a 1000 m raster land cover map that inventoried landscape elements for estimation of associated ecosystem services, and it used 1 urban class called artificial cover, and several forest classes (e.g., broad leaf, needle leaf, mixed). An alternative method for land cover inventories involves a random survey, using photo-interpretation with i-Tree Canopy, to identify the fraction of inventoried points in discrete land cover classes, such as deciduous tree and evergreen tree to identify tree canopy, and other classes to discriminate between non-plantable and plantable areas, such as impervious area that is not-plantable, and impervious are that is potentially plantable. We utilized CORINE and not NLCD in the Naples, Italy testing.

Our results clearly identified the i-Tree Canopy photo-interpretation product as the best estimate of tree cover, and the product we will use for future urban land cover characterization. The Naples area has a mixture of landscape units, including urban and forest, clearly seen in aerial photographs (Figure 2). Using i-Tree Canopy with a 2014 photo dataset the tree cover of Naples was estimated as 24.2% of the urban area, and potentially plantable urban area, such as sidewalks and plazas, could contribute another 20% of the total urban area to canopy cover. This estimate is based on a survey of 500 points, which takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete, and it had an uncertainty of 2%; 500 points is a recommended minimum for controlling the uncertainty in the estimate. The other land cover products did not identify trees in the Naples land cover that is classified as urban, but did identify forest areas within the political boundary of Naples. CORINE estimated forest cover from 2006 data at 7% of the Naples area (Figure 3),the MAGLC estimated forest cover as 4.5% from 2000 data (Figure 4), and MODIS estimated forest cover from 2013 data as 1.8% of the Naples area (Figure 5). Although the dates of each land cover product were different (2014 to 2000), this is not expected to explain the range in tree cover (24.2 to 1.8%). The MODIS and i-Tree Canopy products are closest in date (2013 and 2014), yet they capture the 22.4% range in variation between the maximum and minimum estimates. In general, based on land cover analysis by the Naples government, the vegetated area in Naples has decreased by 1.2% between 2011 and 2015, suggesting the 2014 data product used by i-Tree Canopy is a conservative estimate of tree cover. Given the uncertainty in this estimate is less than 2%, it is also considered the best estimate, and spatially it is the most precise estimate by providing a value for tree cover in the urban fabric.

The i-Tree Canopy product used in photo-interpretation. Naples is bounded by the red polygon, and the area surrounding Naples includes the Mediterranean to the south, and mixed uses to the north.

Figure 2. The i-Tree Canopy product used in photo-interpretation to estimate 22.4% tree cover in the red polygon that is Naples.The area surrounding Naples includes the Mediterranean to the south, and mixed uses to the north.

The CORINE land cover product.

Figure 3. The CORINE land cover product to estimate 7% tree cover in the red polygon that is Naples.

 

The MAGLC land cover product.

Figure 4. The MAGLC land cover product to estimate 4.5% tree cover in the red polygon that is Naples.

The MODIS land cover product.

Figure 5. The MODIS land cover product to estimate 1.8% tree cover in the black polygon that is Naples. It also mis-classified a rocky outcrop as snow and ice.

Future work in this research area will involve applying the i-Tree Canopy tool to nearly 30 global cities. We are interested in having volunteers contribute to this work, and if you are interested please contact us (see below). We will then apply the i-Tree Canopy surveys of land cover types to estimate the existing and potential ecosystem services in these urban areas. This will include using the i-Tree Hydro tool to examine stormwater runoff and how trees reduce volumes and pollutant loads. For the i-Tree Hydro applications, the i-Tree Canopy photo-interpretation product was able to sub-classify each tree cover area by the type of land cover below the canopy, as either impervious or pervious. This sub-classification is important for simulation of urban water balances, in order to allow precipitation passing below the canopy to partition into soil infiltration or overland runoff. The i-Tree Canopy product identified shrub and herbaceous cover in the urban environment, as well as bare soil areas, and of course the impervious areas as potentially plantable or not plantable. The i-Tree Canopy tool could be used to provide data for regression models that estimate the tree cover for each urban class used in CORINE and NLCD, perhaps implementing multiple-regression with additional explanatory variables such as geographic region or urban density. This would allow users of these CORINE and NLCD data products the opportunity to benefit from our estimates of urban tree cover.

Contact information: Dr. Theodore Endreny, te@esf.edu

Acknowledgement: The scholarly collaboration for this project has been supported by the U.S. – Italy Fulbright Commission and Parthenope University through a Fulbright Scholar grant to Theodore Endreny to serve as Distinguished Chair in Environmental Science at Parthenope University in Naples, Italy, and by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry through a sabbatical leave to Theodore Endreny.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Zhenyu Hong makes this connection here…

The article “Nuclear Plant Leak Threatens Drinking Water Wells in Florida” was published by New York Times on March 22nd 2016. This new relates to water resource engineer in hydrology issue of pollute water. This new is talking about a company, called “Florida power & light”, built two nuclear reactors in Turkey point to satisfy power demands in 1990. But, recent studies found that the nuclear reactors’ old cooling canal system was leaking polluted water. Since the reactors sit on the coast line, the leaking water is polluting the water body and marine ecosystem. The water sample collected around the power plant shows a higher concentration of salt, ammonia, phosphorous and tritium (Rennicks, 2016). Even though the tritium concentration is far too low to do damage to people, researchers did pay attention to it. Scientists use tritium as marker to track the flow of canal water and find out where the leaking holes are located. Evident shows that the cooling canal systems are dumping 600,000 pounds of salt into the Biscayne, which would cause many problems in the aquifer.

This WRE issue is related to regional water pollution and has adverse effects on local species, residents as well as the agriculture in Florida. However, behind the truth is the concern about how state regulations fail to enforce the law (Judge, 2016). The increasing concentration of salt, nitrogen and organic matters can result in algae bloom, which is extremely harmful for coastal water system. Additionally, there is possibility that the polluted water is used to irrigate crops and the high concentrations of salt not only hinder crops growth, but lower the quality of farm land (S. Miyamoto, 2016). However, the great thing is that the company is facing its greatest crisis due to a tiny increasing of tritium. Scientists are having a great job in monitoring coastal water system.

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Figure1. The nuclear reactors in Turkey point

 

URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/23/us/nuclear-plant-leak-threatens-drinking-water-wells-in-florida.html?_r=1

 

Reference

Rennicks, J. (n.d.). New analysis confirms FPL’s Turkey Point is Polluting Biscayne Aquifer and Biscayne National Park. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.cleanenergy.org/2016/03/08/new-analysis-confirms-fpls-turkey-point-is-polluting-biscayne-aquifer-and-biscayne-national-park/

 

Judge: State failed to stop pollution from FPL cooling canals. (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2016, from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article61864922.html

 

  1. Miyamoto. “Grounds Maintainance.” Landscape Irrigation with Salty Water. Web. 03 May 2016.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Taylor Brown makes this connection here…

The article “Water: A Social and Economic Catalyst That Deserves Better” was reported by The Huffington Post on March 22nd, 2016 on their website. It was written by Patrick Lavarde, President of International Water Resources Association, as part of a series in conjunction with World Water Day.  The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of water insecurity leading to decreased economic growth. In summary, this news article reports on the relationship between water, economic growth and jobs. The article also stresses the importance of policies regarding water management to be based on solid scientific data and updated technologies.  Based on my engineering education my informed opinion is the WRE facts in the news are accurate, as I show with the following research citations. The Global Water Partnership reported that the estimated world economic losses due to poor access to water and sanitation was around $260 billion (Sadoff). This past year, there has been greater attention paid to policies that will manage freshwater sources sustainably which will in turn lead to economic growth. Such policies include the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted last year in September as the successor to the Millennium Development Goals. They are 17 intergovernmental aspiration goals with 169 targets that aim to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change by 2030, while ensuring that no one is left behind. Figure 1 shows all 17 of the goals. I would argue that all 17 of these goals relate to water, but goal number 6 is dedicated to water and sanitation. Some of the targets for goal number 6 include the implementation of integrated water resources management at all levels and expanding international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water- and sanitation-related activities and programs, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies (United Nations). Based on critical thinking on this news story, I think the article has missed reporting important information on how businesses will contribute to this sustainable economic growth and why they should care about policies such as the Sustainable Development Goals. I think this connection is more clearly made in the article “What is the business case for the Sustainable Development Goals?” written by Nicola Ruane for The Huffington Post.

Water resources engineering influences global, economic, environmental, and societal context areas because it is an interdisciplinary discipline that manages hydrologic and hydraulic systems at many scales to efficiently deliver services for many users. I think the purpose of this news article is to stress the positive impact that WRE solutions can have on global, economic, environmental, and societal context areas. There are many examples of outdated water infrastructure failures that have had a negative effect on economies, the environment, and society. As environmental engineers, we have a responsibility to find WRE solutions as water scarcity becomes a global issue. Enacting policies that will sustainably harness water and respect its power will empower communities and ensure global prosperity. These themes are echoed in the Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education article “The Political Economy and Political Ecology of the Hydro-Social Cycle”. The hydro-social cycle is the idea that water and society make and remake each other. The journal article addresses the societal impact of water resources management and organization. Swyngedouw says in the article that more often than not, it is not the issue of absence of water, but rather poverty and governance that marginalizes that makes people die of thirst. Governments need to make better water management policies and investments that will alleviate poverty and in turn make more productive economies.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 3.45.14 PM

Figure 1: The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/patrick-lavarde/water-a-social-and-econom_b_9510004.html

 

References:

Ruane, Nicola. What is the business case for the Sustainable Development Goals?. The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nicola-ruane/what-is-the-business-case_b_9806782.html. April 29, 2016. Accessed May 3, 2016.

Sadoff, C.W., Hall, J.W., Grey, D., Aerts, J.C.J.H., Ait-Kadi, M., Brown, C., Cox, A., Dadson, S., Garrick, D., Kelman, J., McCornick, P., Ringler, C., Rosegrant, M., Whittington, D. and Wiberg, D. (2015) Securing Water, Sustaining Growth: Report of the GWP/OECD Task Force on Water Security and Sustainable Growth, University of Oxford, UK, 180pp.

Swyngedouw, E. (2009), The Political Economy and Political Ecology of the Hydro-Social Cycle. Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 142: 56–60. doi: 10.1111/j.1936-704X.2009.00054.x

United Nations. The Sustainable Development Agenda. Sustainable Development Goals website  http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/. Accessed May 3, 2016

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Barcley Hayward makes this connection here…

The news article, “Clean Energy Could Stress Global Water Resource” written by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), was published on Science News Daily on March 4, 2016. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of water consumption by the energy sector. In summary, this news article discusses the potential drawbacks of increasing the world’s renewable energy to reduce global climate change. In a 2012 Global energy assessment conducted by the IIASA, a goal was set to limit global climate change to 2 degrees Celsius over the next century. In order to meet this goal, 41 different “transition pathways” were proposed. Depending on the pathway, limiting global climate change could immensely affect the world’s water supply with unsustainable usage. It is likely that this unsustainable consumption by the energy sector would lead to allocation issues among other sectors including domestic use and agriculture. The extreme consumption of water by the energy sector is a result of the liquid cooling process. Not only is consumption an issue, but thermal pollution (Figure 1) from the cooling processes could have detrimental effects on the environment as well (IIASA, 2016). Based on my engineering education, it seems that this article presents a very valid argument. Being that the energy industry consumes roughly 27 percent of water in the U.S. it would make sense that an overall increase in energy systems would lead to water supply issues (Mielke, 2010). It is also very apparent that increased thermal pollution would have severe impacts on the natural environment since waste heat typically depletes dissolved oxygen content within waters and also raises the metabolic rate of aquatic species leading them to require more nutrients (Hogan, 2010). Overall, it seems that working to solve the issue of global climate change will eventually lead to issues with water as a resource. One issue with this article is that it did not provide examples of the 41 transition pathways. It seems that out of the 41 options, some would be much more detrimental to the water supply than others and it would have been interesting to compare the different scenarios.

In a broader sense, this WRE issue ties directly to environmental sustainability. There seems to be 2 options, reduce global warming or save the water supply. By doing one, the other is affected. Reducing climate change leads to water depletion and conserving water leads to more climate change. Global climate change is obviously a prevalent issue in today’s world. Addressing climate change in general is something that needs to happen; however, the ways in which humans choose to deal with this problem need to be thoroughly evaluated before anything is implicated. It seems intuitive that in order to stop climate change we should just reduce fossil fuel consumption and focus on renewable energy. It is counterintuitive that expanding renewable energy would cause other sustainability issues around the globe. Energy and water are tied very closely to each other (Mielke, 2010). The forever changing relationship between the 2 makes it very difficult to make a move toward sustainability since there would likely be a tradeoff on the opposing end. The general consensus is that efficiency is key (IIASA, 2016). By reducing the amount of energy needed, the amount of power plants could be reduced which would, in turn, reduce water consumption and climate change at the same time. For this reason, the focus for sustainability should be placed on efficiency and making human processes less energy intensive. Humans are the reason for nearly all environmental issues, reducing energy usage would obviously be a good step in the right direction.

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Figure 1: A remotely sensed image showing the effects of thermal pollution

 

URL: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304092012.htm

 

Sources:

Hogan, C M. “Thermal Pollution.” The Encyclopedia of Earth. N.p., Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/156599/&gt;.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. “Clean energy could stress global water resources.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160304092012.htm>.

 

Mielke, Eric. “Water Consumption of Energy Resource Extraction, Processing, and Conversion.” Belfer Center. Harvard University, Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/20479/water_consumption_of_energy_resource_extraction_processing_and_conversion.html&gt;.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Covert makes the connection between the loss of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountain of California, California’s growing need for water, and how this great need for water in California affects the surrounding states.

The title of this article is “Snowpack falls to 83 percent of normal, but storms are headed in.” This article was posted to the SF Gate website, the online resource for the San Francisco Chronicle, and it was posted on March 1st, 2016. The specific issue is that with the reduction in snowpack, a major source of water for California. This a consumptive water use problem, as the water retained in snowpack goes to serve municipal water withdraws, (water used for showering of washing of dishes), and agricultural uses. The article talks about the meager snowpack that is currently in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and how the monthly fluctuations from the average have been large this year due to the El Nino event. For example, in January the snowpack was 114% of normal, while in March is was 83% of normal. The article then moves on to talk about how snowpack is monitored. 10 days within the first of every month from January to May, measurements are taken by hollow plastic tubes at 250 locations around the state, and these measurements are augmented with another 130 electronic gauges. Finally, the article said that one site was actually 5% above normal at this time, and that more storms are on the way so the snowpack is likely to be recharged soon. Based on my engineering education, the article seems to be very scientifically valid, as demonstrated through the following lab activities preformed this semester. The content of the article on how the snow measurements are taken, that is, with a hollow tube is consistent with the procedure outline in Lab 1 of this course (ESF Lab 01, 2016). Additionally, augmenting measurements taken on site, with electronic gauges, as it said is done in the article with the 130 other electronic gauges, is common practice in hydrology. This was done in Lab 09 when rain data was downloaded and analyzed. The article is not perfect and in my opinion is missing some critical pieces of information (ESF Lab 09, 2016). Based on critical thinking of this news article, two shortfalls were identified. The first is that the historical snowpack was referenced, but a numerical value was not given. The second was that no actual value for the current snowpack was given, just that it was 83% of the normal. Knowing those two numbers would have been helpful.

This is a societal, economic, and global problem. Societal as when California doesn’t have enough water it is going to have to satisfy that need elsewhere. This will be done through increased withdrawals from the Colorado River, which would hinder surrounding states like Arizona, and New Mexico. Both of these states primarily get their water form the Colorado river, and may not get enough if California is withdrawing a significant amount of water from the same source. It is an economic issue, because this increased stress drives the price of water up,

leading to less people being able to afford such an integral part of life. Finally, it is a global issue because this is not the only place that depends on water in snowpack in the world, and it is not the only place where snowpack is declining. Not much has changed in the relationship as of yet. The engineering and scientific communities are working together to more understand the problem to come up with a solution that benefits everyone involved. I found that Barnette et al. (2005) also talked about how the recent warming trend is likely to severely impact the water availability of populations relying on melting snow and ice for their water supply. Even without a change in precipitation intensity, the rise in temperature means less snow, and earlier warming. This shifts the peak runoff from the spring to the winter, which is farther away from the peak usages in the summer and fall. With limited storage capacities, much of this runoff is lost to the ocean, causing a severe water shortage (Barnette et all., 2005). The cause and effect of this earlier warming is as follows. When less snowpack that accumulates over a winter, and the winter warms earlier than usual, a significant amount of water available for drinking purposes is lost. With less available water for drinking California will have less available drinking water and will be more water stressed than usual.

Figures

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.59.12 PMImage 1- Image showing the amount of snow present at the same location on the same date for 4 years. This serves to show how snowpack is declining in California.

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.59.24 PM

Image 2- Image showing the declining groundwater availability from 2002-2008. Further highlights how the loss of snowpack is a major problem. Not only is California losing its snow water, its also losing its ground water.

 

References

Barnett, T. P., Adam, J. C., & Lettenmaier, D. P. (2005). Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions. Nature, 438(7066), 303-309.

Image 1. [Image showing the amount of snow present at the same location on the same date for 4 years. This serves to show how snowpack is declining in California.]. (2015, April 1). Retrieved May 2, 2015, from http://www.climatecentral.org/news/california-snowpack-obliterates- record-low-18847

Image 2. [Image showing the declining groundwater availability from 2002-2008. Further highlights how the loss of snowpack is a major problem. Not only is California losing its snow water, its also losing its ground water.]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://greenbirdingmendo.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/care-to-join-the- debate-is-california-doomed/

Lab Manual 01 “Lab 01: Hydrologic Measurements- Snow Depth, and Snow Water Equivalent”, SUNY-ESF 2016.

Lab Manual 09 “Lab 09: Downloading and Analyzing Rainfall Datasets” SUNY-ESF 2016.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Meleimoana Su’esu’e makes this connection here…

 

The article “Alexander and Baldwin to restore water to 8 Maui streams” informs us on the current plans and legal situation of a large company in Hawaii known as A&B. This article is in the domain of hydraulics, as it focuses on future plans for the landmark irrigation system which has sparked political, social, and environmental debate amongst community members and government officials for the past decade. The East Maui Irrigation network (EMI) spans from the east side of the island to its central, dry region where most corporate agriculture is based. The states last operating sugar cane plantation sits in this naturally dry area, despite sugar cane being an extremely water intensive crop. The naturally hydrology of the island places most of the freshwater on the east side, on the windward side of the Haleakala mountain (Giambelluca et. al, 2013). The rain shadow caused by this mountain led to the construction of the EMI by A&B, using tunnels, flumes, and ditches to transport water to central agriculture lands. The construction of the EMI had negative impacts on local taro farmers, who received drastically less water on the east side.

This article discusses the recently announced plans for the EMI. The streams in the system will be restored to their natural flow at the end of the year. A&B has already released three of the streams, and will complete the restoration process once the plantation has been shut down. The permits that allowed A&B to hold control of this resource for the past decade were found to be issued through illegal practices within the DLNR. A&B plans to work with the state water commission for further stream restoration.

Based on my engineering education, hydrology and hydraulics knowledge, and personal experience growing up in community with predominant orographic precipitation, I can confirm that increased development within rain shadow regions creates noticeable imbalances in local economy and environment. The entire construction of the EMI was to counter the natural processes and hydrology of the island for (mostly) corporate benefit. We can see that structures like the EMI do not come without negative impacts on the natural ecosystem and the residents who depend on its resources. Input from the DLNR on issuing permits illegally could have been included to add to the impact of the article, and to assure residents how deceitful practices in government branches can be avoided in the future.

This WRE issue involves a broader economic impact. Local economies are also affected by water diversion practices, as traditional farmers receive less water to support their crops, while large plantations thrive. The implementation of EMI had various economic impacts on the community (Bassi A., et. al, 2009). Local farmers have fought the diversion of water for decades and will be happy to have increased access to water, allowing them to produce goods that can be sold locally. The increase in local production and sales will benefit the local economy, and provide residents with alternate ways of making money as the sugar cane industry retreats.

 

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Figure 1- Map of East Maui Irrigation System (EMI).

 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/22/alexander-baldwin-to-restore-water-to-8-maui-strea/

 

 

References:

 

Alexander & Baldwin (2011) Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Fact Sheet, Accessed

on April 26, 2016 at

http://www.alexanderbaldwin.com/wpcontent/uploads/2011/09/hcs_factsheet_2011_110630.pdf.

 

Bassi A., et. al. Using an Integrated Participatory Modeling Approach to Assess Water Management Options and Support Community Conversations on Maui. Sustainability 2009, 1, 1331-1348.

 

Giambelluca, T.W., Q. Chen, A.G. Frazier, J.P. Price, Y.-L. Chen, P.-S. Chu, J.K. Eischeid, and D.M. Delparte, 2013: Online Rainfall Atlas of Hawai‘i. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc. 94, 313-316, doi: 10.1175/BAMS-D-11-00228.1.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Lucas Kittelberger makes this connection here…

The NPR News article “Floods in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay Displace Tens of Thousands” was published on December 25, 2015. The WRE domain is hydrology, with the specific issue pertaining to flood event frequency and magnitude.  In summary, the article refers to serious flooding of the Paraguay and Parana rivers in December. These are two major rivers in the Rio de la Plata Basin, the second largest river basin in South America.  The flooding has displaced 150,000 people from their homes, as the river has raised 24 feet above its regular levels. Based on my engineering education, my informed opinion is that the facts and relations to WRE are accurate, but perhaps not complete. From previous class experience, we know that the damage of a flood is not only quantified in the number of human lives affected, but also economic and ecological damage. As was found from the satellite imaging from reliefweb.int, the images several days after the flooding event reveal that the flooding is much more extensive in Argentina, but the article specified that Paraguay was the worst hit country, simply because they most lives were directly affected there. Likewise, as theGreatRiverPartnership.org points out, there are other features along this river system such as Itaipu, the world’s largest hydroelectric power facility and Iguazu falls, a major tourist attraction, both economic powerhouses that were not considered in the article at all. The article was missing additional critical information regarding pollution and other ecological damage.

Of all the broader issues pertaining to water resource engineering, flooding is an issue of society, and economics. These broader context areas are defined as follows: social context is the interaction between individuals or groups of people, and economic context is the gain, loss or transfer of money or things that can be equated to some monetary value. Based on this article, it is clear that by needing to relocate people, there is a social implication as to how the government will deal with the number of people that must be relocated. Also, the destruction of property by the floods has large economic implications. Akwasi states in his paper that flooding has become more frequent in recent years, and leads to loss of life, homelessness and damage to infrastructure, as well as impacting education and agriculture. All of these are issues relating to economics and social interaction.

 

 

 

 

 

Images:

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Figure 1— the effects of the flooding in South America via satellite imaging. Argentina and Paraguay are separated by the yellow line, with Paraguay on the left. It is clear that the land area effected is much greater in Argentina. Source—reliefweb.int

 

URL: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/25/461032598/floods-in-paraguay-argentina-and-uruguay-displace-tens-of-thousands

 

References

Akwasi A-A. THE IMPACT OF FLOODS ON THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC LIVELIHOOD OF THE PEOPLE OF KWAPROW. . Available at: http://www.academia.edu/8072453/_proposal_the_impact_of_floods_on_the_socio-economic_livelihood_of_the_people_of_kwaprow. Accessed April 29, 2016.

 

Paraguay-Paraná River System. Paraguay-Paraná River System 2012. Available at: http://www.greatriverspartnership.org/en-us/southamerica/paraguayparana/pages/default.aspx. Accessed April 29, 2016.

 

Flooding in Argentina. reliefweb.int 2016. Available at: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/argentina_flooding_paraguay_river_worldview_landsat.pdf. Accessed April 29, 2016.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Jordan Berti makes this connection here in an article about prescription and non-prescription drugs found in fish.

The article entitled ERE Student Berti on WRE article, Drugs found in Puget Sound Salmon from Tainted Wastewater, was reported by Lynda V. Mapes from the Seattle Times in their February 23rd 2016 online news.  The news relates to the WRE domain of water hydrology and the specific issue of the water quality. In summary the article directly addresses the topic of drugs as a chemical of emerging concern in the estuaries of the Puget Sound and the fish species that inhabit these waters.  Currently most wastewater treatment plants do not strip water of contaminants of emerging concern before effluent is discharged into the environment because it is not required by EPA guidelines. This is not only a concern for drinking water sources being contaminated but also for the wellbeing of agriculture and native species that are found in these water bodies.  In the estuary waters surrounding the sewage treatment plants in the Puget Sound researchers found over 81 different drugs.  Drugs that were found in high enough concentrations to be detected and of concern include but are not limited to Flonase, Aleve, Tylenol, Paxil, Valium, Zoloft, Tagamet, Nicotine, Caffeine, Fungicides, Antiseptics, Anticoagulants, and Cocaine.  This sound is not a direct drinking water source however; humans and other animals often ingest the fish caught from this sound. Many of the drugs detected in the effluent waters were also found in juvenile chinook salmon and resident Staghorn Sculpin.  Based on my engineering education my informed opinion is the WRE facts in the news are accurate, as I show with the following research citations. Harvard Health publications (2011) emphasize how signs show that drugs are having harmful effects on aquatic life.  A nationwide study done in 1999 and 2000 by the USGS found drugs such as antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives and steroids in 80% of the rivers and streams tested (NY DEC).   The DEC also emphasized how feminization of fish is occurring due to poor water quality containing high levels of hormones.  Based on critical thinking on this news story, I think the article has missed reporting important information on how the water from the effected estuaries is being used down stream and how it could be affecting other ecosystems.

Water resources engineering effects global, economic, environmental, and societal areas because it has hydrologic and hydraulic systems at many scales. This hydrology water quality issue of drugs impacts WRE context areas of society and the environment. Societal hydrology issues usually relate to how water is affected by people and in tern how people are affected by it. Environmental hydrology issues usually relate to the disruption of water quality and how the ecosystem is affected by the disruption. Based on the article the hydrology in this local environment has been adversely affected by society. The water quality in this environment has been degraded from the use and incorrect disposal of drugs into the wastewater system and eventually into the watershed.  Based on the article however society will be the ones who pay the ultimate price when they ingest fish containing all of these drugs they are not prescribed.   In a supporting article posted by the Associated Press (AP) Investigation team, the drugs in drinking water can have alarming and devastating effects on not only human cells but also animal cells. Also in the supporting article from the AP Investigation Team, researchers who tested 35 drinking water reservoirs found harmful pharmaceuticals in 28.  The cause and effect between drugs found in fish and the environment/society is as follows- humans send drugs into water systems every day. This water is treated and released into the environment where it is absorbed by organisms that are affected directly and can have an indirect effect on the health of society.

IMAGES:

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Figure1: Researchers netting juvenile Chinook salmon from the Puget Sound for drug testing, source Seattle Times

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Figure 2: Puget Sound estuaries and fish netting sites tested for drugs in relation to wastewater treatment plants, source Seattle times

 

URL:  http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/drugs-flooding-into-puget-sound-and-its-salmon/

 

REFERENCES:

“Department of Environmental Conservation.” Drugs in New York’s Waters. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

“Drugs in the Water – Harvard Health.” Harvard Health. N.p., 1 June 2011. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

Mapes, Lynda V. “Drugs Found in Puget Sound Salmon from Tainted Wastewater.” The Seattle Times. N.p., 23 Feb. 2016. Web. 05 Apr. 2016.

“The Associated Press: Pharmaceuticals Found in Drinking Water, Affecting Wildlife and Maybe Humans.” The Associated Press: Pharmaceuticals Found in Drinking Water, Affecting Wildlife and Maybe Humans. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Apr. 2016.

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