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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.


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





Hogan, C M. “Thermal Pollution.” The Encyclopedia of Earth. N.p., Aug. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <;.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. “Clean energy could stress global water resources.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2016. <>.


Mielke, Eric. “Water Consumption of Energy Resource Extraction, Processing, and Conversion.” Belfer Center. Harvard University, Oct. 2010. Web. 28 Apr. 2016. <;.

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.


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.



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 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 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.



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





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

on April 26, 2016 at


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, 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 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.








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—







Paraguay-Paraná River System. Paraguay-Paraná River System 2012. Available at: Accessed April 29, 2016.


Flooding in Argentina. 2016. Available at: 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.



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


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





“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.

Water resources engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Grace Belisle makes this connection here…

In the North Eastern United States, every state is known for their trademarks. Whether it’s the ratio of the number of cows in Vermont to people, or Massachusetts’s ringing in of the American Revolution, its unique features are held dear to heart. For the state of Maine, it’s the coastline, the lumber industry, and wild blueberries. It’s also, lobster: a core little crustacean at the heart of Maine’s economy.

On February 4, 2016, The Portland Press Herald published an article titled “Main Lobster Industry Wary as Warm Waters Suggest Repeat of Disastrous 2012 Season”1. The basis of this article relies on data driven from the hydrology domain of WRE, specifically in the occurrence of rising water temperatures.

The “Disastrous 2012 Season” refers to what happened in May of 2012 in the Gulf of Maine. Water temperatures in the Gulf were mild for the winter, and in the spring of 2012, come May, were about as warm as they should have been in June. Lobsters move to the warmer waters for their molting season, so in May of 2012, lobsters were moving into the Gulf one month early. After the lobsters move into the warmer waters, they begin to molt, which is the process of shedding their outer, hard shell, so that it is replaced by a softer outside layer. The inflow of early lobsters, led to the “disaster” of 2012. To begin with, the replaced softer outside of the lobsters makes it more difficult for lobstermen to transport them. But the big grunt of the problem resulted in too many lobsters too soon. With the peak season arriving 6 weeks early, the customer’s lobster demand remained the same as usual for that time of year, and the lobstermen and the lobster industry were faced with having too many lobsters to sell, too soon. As the demand stayed stagnant, and the supply sky rocketed so early in the season (keeping in mind that when the demand raised to its normal levels, the supply would be low, and the leftover lobster not as fresh) the price of lobster dropped and the price paid to lobstermen dropped significantly. This year, hydrologists and scientists are predicting a similar happening. This time around water temperatures (at the time this article was published in February) were being measured as well above average, as shown in Figure 1. Surface water temperatures were measured to be even slightly warmer than what they were at the same time, back in 2012. This year, people explain that this being the warmest winter on record, brought by El Nino, is the reason for such warm waters. This time around, with watching the water temperatures and comparing between 2012 temperatures and now, Maine’s industry can prepare for the large amount of lobsters that may again be coming their way, too early. A second article2 published on March 21, 2016 published through the Portland Press Herald looks at more recent water temperatures recorded. Temperatures in mid-March were showing temperature readings that usually don’t appear till mid-April. A buoy in the Nantucket Shoals (located in the southern portion of the Gulf) read temperatures that were still above average, but slightly cooler than what they were in 2012 at that time. The combination of high temperatures, being not as high as in 2012, lead people to now believe that while lobsters may come in early, it wont be as early or as bad as in 2012. The hydrology related facts in the article are very accurate. The article states that El Nino is the cause of the warmer winter and the higher water temperatures. NOAA2 states that El Nino does influence both “weather patterns, ocean conditions, and marine fisheries across large portions of the globe”. In engineering it is also important to understand economics. The facts about the economics of supply and demand, and the economic disaster resulting in 2012 follow economic principles, as described in the textbook “Engineering Economic Analysis”4. This article does not include any specifics of what Maine’s industry can do to prepare for another season like 2012. Other information the article could discuss includes what other marine life will be affected as well, and how other industries will be affected, as well as what other waters in the north east will be experiencing similar conditions.

The broader context area affected by the happenings in this article are directly related to economics. The economic area of WRE shows the direct relationship between changes in hydrology and the economy of the local area. The affects of these warm water are having a direct impact on the amount of money lobstermen make in a season, as a result of supply and demand effects. In the paper “Valuing Lobster for Maine Coastal Tourism: Methodological Considerations”5 the existence of the coast of Maine’s dependency on lobster, and how it runs such a large part of the economy is addressed, relating how a change on lobster influx can have such a great effect on the economy. Increasing water temperatures, because of El Nino, but also because of the general trend of water warming due to to climate change, will have a direct effect on how Maine’s lobster industry handle’s its seasons, and it will have to adjust for another warm summer, as well as possible warm summers to come.




Figure 1. from article in Portland Press Herald, showing temperatures for the past year above average






  1. Murphy E. Main Lobster Industry Wary as Waters Suggest Repeat of Disastrous 2012 Season. The Portland Press Herald. Published February 4, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2016.


  1. Woodard C. Warm Waters off Maine Point to Repeat of “Ocean Heatwave”. The Portland Press Herald. Published March 21, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2016.


  1. National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration Staff. What are El Nino and La Nina? NOAA Ocean Service. Accessed: April 30, 2016.


  1. Newnan D, Lavelle J, Eschenbach T. Engineering Economic Analysis. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press: 2014


  1. Daniel H, Allen T, Bragg L, Teisl M, Bayer R, Billings C. Valuing lobster for Maine coastal tourism: methodological considerations. Journal Of Foodservice [serial online]. April 2008;19(2):133-138. Available from: Business Source Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 30, 2016.

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

Natasha Geiling of addresses two contentious issues not often paired together in her article “Why Climate Change is a Women’s Rights Issue” from June 24, 2015. The piece discusses matters within the WRE hydrology domain and the reduction of water availability due to climate change. Geiling addresses that women’s rights are often omitted from the conversation on climate change, when women are those who are most effected. In most countries, women are not only the ones who care for their families–providing food and water—but they also make up 60-80% of the agricultural work force in Sub-Saharan Africa and 50% in Asia. With climate change pressing these women are particularly vulnerable due to droughts and poor soil creating poor conditions. Desertification reaches 45% of The article states that 63% of rural households depends on women for their drinking water. As climate change increases and the amount of available drinking water decreases the 40 billion hours spent collecting water per year by the women in Africa will only increase. This furthers the issue when young women have to spend more time obtaining resources instead of attending school. A proposed solution to fight both gender inequality and climate change lies within sustainable technologies and education in STEM fields. A slow increase in participation from women to take action has been displayed through the United Nations as well as Heads of Delegations. Policy makers are beginning to take notice and adjust their views to tackle climate change and women’s rights at the same time because “you can’t obtain sustainable development without gender equality.” Geiling professionally addresses each issue carefully, providing numerical facts that were validated by Denton, 2002. The article did not present any facts on how the drought is directly effecting women in Africa and Asia. Desertification is occurring in 46% of Africa which has declined the economy up to 60% historically (Loucks, 2005).

The WRE issue presented impacts areas on global, economic, environmental, and societal needs because climate change is a global problem that effects the overall sustainability (people, planet, and profit) of vulnerable communities. This article is not just for women, but also those who willing to standby women to fight climate change as equals. The decline of available water for drinking and agriculture in developing countries is in result of global and environmental changes causing shifts in societal and economic stability. This is described in Loucks, 2005, where the change in available water causes a domino effect of events including a declining economy, increased health risks, and population decline.

Figure 1 Women waiting to obtain water for their families Source: CNN






Denton F. Climate change vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation: Why does gender matter? Gender & Development 2002;10(2):10–20. doi:10.1080/13552070215903.


Loucks DP, van Beek E. Water Resources Systems Planning and Management – Facts about Water. 2005.


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

The news article, “What is Earthship Malaysia?” published by Clean Malaysia on March 20th 2016 reports on the new Earthship that will be built in Malaysia. After describing what an Earthship is, the article then continues to go in depth on the grey water system that Earthship utilizes in their designs. The grey water system they lay out in detail begins with harvesting rainwater that then goes through several filters and transported to outlets through the house for external use only (washing hands, clothes, & shower). Once that water is used, it’s carried to planters where it serves as a water source for the plants as well as gets filtered through a series of soil and bacteria filters. After this step, it’s officially called grey water and is pumped into the toilets of the house. And then once it’s used in the toilets, it becomes grey water and it sent to the on site septic tank. This type of grey water system conserves water, a vital and depleting resource, as well as decreases the money needed to be spent on water for a home. This system not only makes individuals more responsible for their part in the water cycle but also entails them to think about water on a more personal level than they would in a regular home water plumbing system. Having worked with Earthship Biotecture and having been an apprentice to a grey water system plumber, on top of taking hydrology & hydraulics, I can confidently conclude that the article was very accurate in their WRE facts. Since the article was reporting on more of what an earthship is rather than what a greywater system is, there wasn’t really any important information missing in regards to WRE.

On a WRE broader context, this article deals with both global and economic as well as environmental areas of hydrology and hydraulics. Water is a global resource that is very quickly depleting so that it tied in. Grey water systems are a much cheaper route to take when it comes to obtaining water in a home, so that’s how it encompasses the economics side of it. And it’s clearly environmentally aware article because recycling and reusing your water is one of the most environmentally friendly things you can do with water. In the scientific journal titled, “Overview of Greywater Use: The Potential of Greywater Systems to Aid Sustainable Water Management” by the Pacific institute the various greywater technologies along with policies and regulations are discussed in depth. The article does a great job of corroborating with the WRE issues impacted previously examined from the original article.



Figure 1: Diagram of a typical greywater system found in an Earthship




Earthship Biotecture – Radically Sustainable Buildings. Earthship Biotecture. Available

at: Accessed April 22, 2016.


Allen, Lucy, Christian-Smith, Juliet and Palaniappan, Meena. Overview of Greywater

Use: The Potential of Greywater Systems to Aid Sustainable Water Management.
Pacific Institute. November 2010.


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

The article “Embracing Drought-resistant Landscaping Saves More Than Water” was published on March 16, 2016 by the San Antonio Current. Xeriscaping deals with water conservation in the hydrology domain. This article discusses the importance of xeriscaping, which is defined as creative and sustainable landscaping that focuses on conserving water (Xeriscape). This is incredibly important in drought-afflicted areas. Many people want to have turfgrass lawns in their yards but in many cases, this is not appropriate for the climate. A misconception is that the alternative is aesthetically unappealing but with planning and design, this is most certainly not the case. Using native plants, xeriscaping reduces outdoor water usage by 50-70% and also decreases the need for fertilizers (Eartheasy). Based on my engineering knowledge and personal experience, xeriscaping provides all the benefits described here. Xeriscaping also serves an education purpose because the person who is xeriscaping learns about native species and water conservation techniques. The article was very thorough at explaining why xeriscaping is a great alternative to grass. However, there could have been more metrics showing how much water is actually saved, how much less fertilizer is needed, etc.


In a broader context, xeriscaping primarily addresses societal concerns. This is rooted in the fact that without clean water, the human population would suffer. In the western United States, there is a major drought occurring and water conservation is more important than ever. A huge amount of water is being used to irrigate lawns. Almost half of this water is being lost to evaporation and the rest is used to water non-native turfgrass. Utilizing the native landscape not only conserves water but also benefits every other part of the ecosystem. According to the article “Assessing xeriscaping as a sustainable heat island mitigation approach for a desert city”, xeriscaping reduces water use and can also decrease temperatures in urban settings. This has a large impact on social issues because if people do not have access to basic needs such as clean water, there will be no progress in other areas such as poverty, education, health, etc. Water resources management deals a lot with access to clean water and how to distribute it. If we can implement water conservation methods in our own homes, there will be less problems further up the road. Xeriscaping is a prime example of this and works to resolve many environmental and greater social issues.




Figure 1. Example of xeriscape landscaping




Chow, W. T., & Brazel, A. J. Assessing xeriscaping as a sustainable heat island mitigation approach for a desert city. Retrieved from


Eartheasy. Retrieved from


Reagan, M. Embracing Drought-resistant Landscaping Saves More Than Water. Retrieved from


Xeriscape. Retrieved from


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

The news article, “Submarine-hunting drones take off and land on water vertically” was reported by David Hambling in the New Scientist online news on April 6, 2016. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology issues with safety, timing and expenses related with field measurements during floods.  In summary this article reports on new drone technologies called AQUA-QUAD and CRACUNS that are in the prototype stages that will be used for tracking enemy submarines as well collecting ocean/freshwater data. The AQUA-QUAD is solar powered, can be deployed from and land on water surfaces, and is designed to withstand a harsh ocean environment.  The CRACUNS drone has different benefits than the AQUA-QUAD as it is designed to handle high pressures and function hundreds of feet deep (Moon, 2016). As shown in figure 1 below, testing was recently completed by Dr. Kevin Jones and his Naval Postgraduate school team (Moon, 2016).  Based upon my knowledge this article portrayed accurate and necessary design considerations.  With deep water there are large heads of pressures that can crush the drone and that is why material and structure support were a major consideration for CRACUNS. Also the influence of saltwater was a major consideration as it can cause corrosion issues.  This applies to my understanding of salt corrosion in pipes for desalinization plants and the promotion of corrosion on many upstate New York vehicles from salted roadways.  Based upon critical thinking on the news story the information missing was other applications for the drone besides replacing NAVY sonobuoys and more specifics on the design considerations.  The news story misses the broader scope of applications that this device can be used for.

The issues with safety for field workers and the community, as well as the cost to send people into the field have both societal and economic impacts.  In flooding situations it can be extremely dangerous and expensive to deploy workers into the field for data collection.  This data is critical to supplement models so that the proper flood mitigation strategies are used. The data can be collected by these drones through the use of sensors or cameras, which can include physical, chemical and biological data.   In the article some specific applications included monitoring ocean temperatures and acidity (Hambling, 2016).  There are socio-economic advantages of deploying and getting to the site faster, having little to no energy cost with solar power and not having to send people out into the field during disaster situations.  In a journal by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) the economics was put this way, “With shrinking government funding, and an expanding need for state and local governments to do more with less, the use of drones can become an easy and cost effective way for government to stay ahead of the workload and innovate, providing more service with fewer resources (ASCE, 2015).”  The cause-effect between faster data collection and socio-economics is as follows – when on-site information can be received faster, proper mitigation techniques can be implemented faster, therefore saving infrastructure, lives and money.



Figure 1: Pictures of field testing of the AQUA-QUAD drone by the Dr. Kevin Jones in the ocean.  On the upper left image one can see the solar photovoltaic cells located at the center of the drone (Jones, 2015).


Figure 2: Picture of the built prototype of the CRACUNS drone (Dash, 2016).



Article URL:


Brown, G. (2016, March 31). Release the CRACUNS: APL develops drone that can operate in the air or underwater. Retrieved from

Dash, S. (2016, March 18). Meet CRACUNS: A drone that can be launched from       underwater. Retrieved from

Hambling, D. (2016, April 16). Submarine-hunting drones take off and land on water vertically. Retrieved from

Jones, K. (2015). Development and testing of the AQUA -QUAD. CRUSER News, (58), 3-4.

Moon, M. (2016, April 7). US Navy’s solar drone flies from and lands on water. Retrieved from

Smith, K. (2015). The use of drones in environmental management. American Society of Civil Engineers. doi:10.1061/9780784479162.133




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