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Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Out student Trevor Cornish makes this connection in London, United Kingdom. The current event was reported in BBC World News on February 11, 2018, under the title “The 11 Cities Most Likely to Run Out of Drinking Water – like Cape Town.” The WRE current event is likely accurate and not fake news because Thames Water, the water supplier in London, reports on their website that in developing the next Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP), they are forecasting a water resource deficit in the service territory of London of 400 million liters per day, the volume of water required by two million people. Figure 1 shows the estimated population growth in London by Thames Water. Figure 2 shows a predicted increase in water demand, by water resource zone.

Figure 1: Population forecast in London by Thames Water

Figure 2: Predicted increase in water demand by water resource zone (WRZ) by Thames Water

The current event in London relates to WRE. One WRE sub-discipline this news relates to is water demand forecasting, which is part of design of water-distribution systems. To predict supply problems or shortages, engineers at Thames Water must understand how much water will be used, the demand, based on population and fire flow. This news also mentions that the annual average rainfall of London is only 600 mm, which relates to fundamentals of surface-water hydrology as design of drinking water systems may be based on rainfall. London’s listing as a city that may run out of drinking water is important news for WRE because access to water and sanitation is recognized as a human right by the UN, so water resource engineers in London and the rest of the wrold must work to prevent a water shortage by analyzing available water resources, water loss, and water demand. The reported current event could be improved if more information regarding how the supply problems are predicted was presented. For example, after reading the article, I wondered if the predicted supply problems are mostly caused by population growth, failure of the current water distribution infrastructure, climate change, or a combination of many factors.

Economic, environmental, and societal issue are important in the area of this current event because they shape plans on how to avoid a water shortage in London. The WRE event relates to economic issues because the minimization of cost is always an objective in engineering projects. Thames Water is looking to reduce lost/stolen water by reducing leakage and deploying detectives to stop water theft, which will save money and increase revenue, respectively. Water supply issues in London relate to environmental issues because in some way, water demand must be met. This may mean withdrawing more water from the Thames River in which issues around ecological engineering must be considered. The WRE event relates to societal issues because productivity of society would be hindered if access to clean, safe water was inconvenient, unreliable, or very costly. In the refereed journal article Sensitivity of future U.S. Water shortages to socioeconomic and climate drivers: a case study in Georgia using an integrated human-earth system modeling framework, Scott et. Al discuss the important human-climate relationship surrounding water demand. They make clear that there is a connection between socioeconomic change, climate change, and water demand and supply, respectively. The fact that this aspect of WRE is discussed in a scientific journal gives credibility to the news article about London’s predicted water shortage. The cause-effect relationship between the WRE event and the context area issue is similar in London and many other megacities. The causes are multi-faceted, and include population growth, and crumbling infrastructure that results in more leakage, and climate change that results in fewer water resources available. The effect, as seen in London and other cities, is that water shortages, or even crises, are predicted or experienced.


Human Rights. UN-Water. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Pidgen K. Thames Water consults on water resources management plan. Utility Week. Published December 2, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Plimmer G. Subscribe to the FT to read: Financial Times Thames Water deploys detectives to stop water theft. Financial Times. Published January 24, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Scott M, Daly D, Voisin N, et al. Sensitivity of future U.S. Water shortages to socioeconomic and climate drivers: a case study in Georgia using an integrated human-earth system modeling framework. Climatic Change [serial online]. May 15, 2016;136(2):233-246. Available from: Energy & Power Source, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 14, 2018.

The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town. BBC News. Published February 11, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Water Resources Management Plan – 2019. Thames Water; 2016.—WRMP19. Accessed February 14, 2018.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connect to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Marissa Clay makes this connection in Nagoya, Japan. This current even was reported in Reuters on October 21, 2017, under the title “Typhoon kills at least two in Japan, prompts call for thousands to evacuate” by Elaine Lies and Makiko Yamazaki1. The destruction caused by Typhoon Lan has also been documented by reliable sources such as The Weather Network2 and The Straits Times3.

Nagoya, Japan is a prefecture of the region of Aichi, Japan. As it is located on the Pacific Coast, it is considered one of Japan’s foremost ports. However, Japan faces a yearly typhoon season, from May to October, and this often affects the metropolitan city of Nagoya (Figure 1). In 2017, Nagoya faced Typhoon Lan, and encountered flooding and extreme rains. Typhoon Lan creates a connected to water resources through the aspects of stormwater management and flood protection. These two facets of WRE are extremely critical to consider when a weather phenomenon such as a typhoon occurs. In this city, the use of green infrastructure (GI) has been implemented to deal with these events. The GI systems utilizes stormwater by recycling the water, increasing filtration, and reducing runoff in the drainage systems. The GI also helps improve flood protection and prevention by routing the water into GI networks in order to reuse the water elsewhere4. This is a very notable solution to Japan’s typhoon season and is a relevant example of how a city may execute a WRE plan. This article explained the aftermath of Typhoon Lan, however it didn’t mention what each city was going to do in order to ameliorate the devastated lands.

Figure 1. A car drives through the floodwaters of Typhoon Lan in Nagoya, Japan6

Economic, environmental and societal issues often arise when a natural disaster affects an area. With the use of GI, however, Nagoya has been able to improve their efforts to restore the city afterward. In terms of the economy, the use of GI in stormwater management has been a positive step for the city. After the flooding occurs, the city uses green roofs to capture water and help support agricultural endeavors. Also, GI includes the use of sustainable landscapes, which will cost less to fix after a typhoon. After a typhoon occurs, the environment is damaged tremendously. In the case of Typhoon Lan, there was flooding from the ocean, strong winds, and superfluous amounts of storm water resulting from rain. The use of GI for stormwater management also has an appeal to society. The resulting stormwater can be recycled and reused within the city, which leads to an efficient usage of the water through the city’s residents. In China, GI systems have also been considered in areas affected by flooding. The Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture conducted similar studies and recorded the advantages of GI systems in the journal, “Management of Urban Stormwater by Green Infrastructures”5. The cause and effect relationship of this event shows the necessity for preparation before a natural disaster event. The relationship proves that if preemptive measures are taken, stormwater management and flooding can be relatively controlled, and if not, and event such as a typhoon could devastate an area.


  1. Lies E, Yamazaki M. Typhoon kills at least two in Japan, prompts call for thousands to evacuate. Reuters UK. Published October 21, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  2. Deadly Typhoon Lan slams Japan: Photos, here. The Weather Network. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  3. Typhoon Lan heads out to sea, leaves three dead and flooding in Japan. The Straits Times. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  4. Kato S. Green infrastructure use trends in the USA and a successful city-wide implementation strategy in Nagoya, Japan. Resilient Cities- ICLEI. Published May 30, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  5. Wei Z. Management of Urban Stormwater Runoff by Green Infrastructures. CNKI. Published 2011. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  6. At Least 2 Killed as Powerful Typhoon Slams Into Japan. VOA. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Jesalyn Claeys makes this connection in Guangzhou, China. This current event was reported in Water and Megacities on June 17, 2011 under the title “Urbanisation in China and the Effects on Water Resources – The Example Guangzhou” by Klaus Baier. This article is likely accurate as another article titled “Cleaning Up China’s Polluted Pearl River” on the World Bank website also addresses this event.

According to the article, this region has developed from a small city to one of the most densely populated areas in the world in just 10 years. Because of its rapid development, Guangzhou, China is currently facing serious water quality problems. These problems are due to the fact that the municipality lacks the water and wastewater treatment facilities to keep up with the needs of the population. These disciplines of WRE are necessary to protect the health of the citizens. In this city, there are open sewers that often flow into the Pearl River without being treated. Not only does this pollute the surface water, but water from the Pearl River often recharges the groundwater that is used for drinking water. Due to the lack of water and wastewater treatment, tap water in Guangzhou often contains coliform bacteria and ammonia. As Guangzhou works to improve its water quality, the solutions they find can be useful to water-resources engineers around the world that are facing similar problems. Although this is a problem that is still facing Guangzhou, this article should have outlined some of the first steps that are being taken to address this problem.

Figure 1. Open sewer in Guangzhou, China

This multifaceted issue has far-reaching impacts in Guangzhou. First, it is, at its core, an environmental issue as the Pearl River Delta is being polluted by sewage. The effects on the environment also lead to social issues as those with less money have more trouble accessing clean water. While the article didn’t mention specific economic issues caused by Guangzhou’s water quality, it is likely that there are also economic impacts.


Baier K. Urbanisation in China and the Effects on Water Resources – The Example Guangzhou. Water and Megacities. Published June 17, 2011. Accessed February 9, 2018.

Cleaning Up China’s Polluted Pearl River. World Bank. Published May 26, 2016. Accessed February 9, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Martha Caster makes this connection in Istanbul, Turkey. This current event was reported in by Hurriyet Daily News online news, on January 9, 2018, under the title “Plunging water levels in Turkish dams heightening concerns.1” This is likely real news, based on the Daily Sabah Turkey in January 11, 2018 providing an independent report on this current event as well. Twitter user Ahval also confirmed this story by tweeting “The risk of a large-scale drought in Turkey is bigger than ever, experts warned, after many regions in the east of the country saw almost no rain at all this winter” on January 31, 2018.

The news about drought and dropping dam levels relates to WRE, in the specific areas of per-capita demand, agricultural irrigation, and water conservation practices. Because Turkey is located in a semi-arid region, it is regular practice during the winter and spring seasons to collect and store excess runoff and water that accumulates. However, recent climate change has caused the amount of rainfall to decrease and the overall heat to increase in recent years. According to Hurriyet Daily News, 2017 was the driest year in 44 years3 and ten dams in Istanbul have shrunken to 65% levels.1 This lack of stored water could potentially lead to 2018 being a very dry year which would then compound to future years having an even worse water shortage. Turkey has heavily invested into their future water shortage by constructing 111 dams, 38 artificial ponds, 184 irrigation facilities, and 28 drinking water facilities in 2017, 3 however, it may still not be enough. Water shortage is a severe problem because without it, life cannot be sustained. Therefore, WRE needs to take a closer look at the past water usage in order to ensure the most effective and practical methods are being and will be implemented. The current water usage also need to be considered to better plan future water usage. In my critique of this news story, I think the article has missed important information on how agriculture and their practices will respond. If sufficient water cannot be found through natural means, more effective ways of treating and reusing wastewater should be researched into possible integration into agriculture.

Figure 1 Illustrating low dam levels in Istanbul, Turkey1

To consider the economic, environmental, and societal issues is paramount for this current event. In the future summer months when rainfall is not as frequent, costs could rise for nearly every type of service or product. Specifically, farms would be one of the most economically effected industry. Environmentally, the amount of deforestation is increasing, making the amount of green space dropping heavily as more and more areas are drying up. As climate expert Prof. Dr. Ümit Erdem clearly states “the most urgent thing we need to do is to increase the amount of greenery. If instead of building dams, we protect our trees, more affective results can be obtained. Every new dam creates a new ecological system. This situation damages other ecosystems.1” If more green areas can be created, it can be considered a future investment by creating an environment that can sustain the holding of water. Because both the economy and environment are seriously affected, consequently societal life is impacted as well. A socioeconomic drought is also forecasted in the future, which means that the demand for an economic good exceeds the supply or the need for water would be too high in comparison to the amount of reserved water. Like earlier stated, without water, no life can survive. No one will be able to continue living in Turkey without a sufficient water supply.4 Related to the environmental impact of a drought on a water supply system is this article, “The combined effects of a long-term experimental drought and an extreme drought on the use of plant-water sources in a Mediterranean forest.” In this article, it emphasizes the importance of creating a hospitable environmental for water so that water will not dry up as quickly.5


  1. Plunging water levels in Turkish dams heightening concerns. Hurryiyet Daily News. Published January 9, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  2. Turkey counts on future rain amid drought concerns. Daily Sabah Turkey. Published January 11, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  3. Turkey experiencing worst drought in 44 years: Minister. Hurryiyet Daily News. Published December 28, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  4. National Weather Service. Drought Fact Sheet. Published October 2012. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  5. Barbeta A, Mejía-Chang M, Ogaya R, Voltas J, Dawson T, Peñuelas J. The combined effects of a long-term experimental drought and an extreme drought on the use of plant-water sources in a Mediterranean forest. Global Change Biology[serial online]. March 2015;21(3):1213-1225. Available from: GreenFILE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 1, 2018. York Ltd, New York, 2002.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Dana Carris makes this connection in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This current event was reported in the Dhaka Tribune on January 12, 2018, under the title “Water and sanitation crisis unfolds in Rohingya camps”, by Abdul Aziz. This article contains statistics and interviews regarding the Rohingya camps established in the Cox’s bazar district of Bangladesh, which was featured in Time Magazine Article on November 23, 2017.

Beginning in late August 2017, the Myanmar military began a vendetta against the Rohingya people living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Approximately 1.2 million Rohingya people fled over the border to Bangladesh and have been allocated 3,000 acres of forest in the Cox’s Bazar district. Hastily made toilets, a lapse in sewage management, and poorly planned well drilling has created a health crisis for the residents of the 12 camps. This story relates directly to water resources engineering in the fields of wastewater management and groundwater supply systems. As part of international relief efforts, tube wells were installed to provide clean water, and toilets were installed. Local authorities claim these wells were drilled in an unplanned manner, where multiple wells exist in the same location and none in some areas of need (Aziz, 2018). The wells were installed during the rainy season when water levels were high and now the water table has dropped, putting the wells out of order. The lack of toilets and poor planning has lead to overflowing sewage and water stagnation in some parts of the camp, causing horrendous odor (Aziz, 2018). To properly install the wells, the government should have examined the groundwater hydrology and drilled below the water table level expected in the dry season.

Figure 1:Rohingya refugees line up for water at a refugee camp near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

Figure 2:Children play around polluted water streaming through Kutupalong unofficial camp, where an estimated 20,000 people are living.

The water quality concerns at the Rohingya camps pose many problems for the refugees, humanitarian workers, and all organizations involved in the response. The poor distribution of wells, and the lack of water during the dry season is causing people to travel great distances for clean water, or drink contaminated water (Figure 1). Standing water and overflowing toilets are increase the risk for water borne diseases such as cholera and provide a breeding ground for mosquitos and other vectors (Figure 2). The poor planning of wells and sewage management is causing the government to invest in new wells and redevelop sanitary installations at the camps. If these provisions were installed correctly the first time, the money used for these installations could have been directed towards additional food and medical supplies. Likewise, more money will need to be spent on medical supplies to treat the people getting sick from the water. In addition to the societal and economic impacts of this crisis, the large number of wells being used in this area will affect the ground water and potentially surface water hydrology as the aquifers are drawn down from overuse. The aquifers may also be recharged with the unmanaged wastewater and contaminate the drinking water for the camps. This same waste water may pollute surrounding water bodies with nutrients and bacterium, as is common with leaky septic tanks (Hayes, 1990).


Aziz, A. (2018, January 12). Water and sanitation crisis unfolds in Rohingya camps. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Solomon, F. (2017, November 23). Rohingya Refugees: Myanmar’s Crisis Is Bangladesh’s Burden. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Hayes, S., Newland, L., Morgan, K., & Dean, K. (1990). Septic tank and agricultural non‐point source pollution within a rural watershed [Abstract]. Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry, 26(1-4), 137-155. doi:10.1080/02772249009357541

News, V. (2017, September 16). Bangladesh Government to Build Camp for 400,000 Rohingya Muslim Refugees. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Bangladesh: The Rohingya Moved From One Deplorable Situation to Another. (2009, June 10). Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our student Elliott Carlson makes this connection in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  This current event was reported in The International Water Association, on April 17, 2017, under the title, Argentina, expanding availability of water and sanitation, by Tom Williams.  This is found to be accurate by referencing similar information found in the 2011 report by The Guardian stating that 11% of Argentina’s population lacked infrastructure for water and sanitation.  Also stated, nearly every month Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández, introduces projects that would provide these amenities to the densely populated districts on the outskirts of Buenos Aires (Valente, 2011).

Figure 1 Palermo Water Treatment Plan, Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos, AySA, Buenos Aires (Saltiel, 2017)

As a sub-discipline of civil engineering, WRE is concerned with the collection and management of water.  This includes the prediction and management of the quality and the quantity of water in both underground and above ground sources.  Further, the specific discipline of Hydraulic Engineering is concerned with the flow and conveyance of fluids.  This area focuses on the design of pipelines, water supply networks, drainage facilities, and canals (Islamic University, 2015).  These disciplines can be directly related to this current event regarding water distribution in Argentina.  Both Water Resources Engineers and Hydraulic Engineers are involved in the infrastructure development process in order to further provide parts of Buenos Aires access to water and sanitation. This is important for WRE because it creates an opportunity to apply what is known and design a system while overcoming and adapting to challenges along the way.  The current event article does not mention the fact that WRE involves resource management through hydrology, meteorology, and geology while the actual task of designing a sanitation or water distribution facility is left to civil engineers in a separate sub-discipline (Islamic University, 2015).

Three common important issues can be defined as economic, environmental, and societal; all of which play a role in this specific current event.  All of these issues are important to assess in a design because a balance is created between money, the area, and the people.  The event discusses the 1999 ‘Argentine great depression’ and how it led to political, social, and economic instability.  The event briefly discusses the challenge of working with diminishing water resources.  However, there is not much detail regarding the specifics of the situation or any design solutions to remedy the environmental problem.  The event mentions the issue of designing for an expanding population.  Topics of discussion include the correct institutional model for delivering water and sanitation services for expanding boundaries and growing populations (Williams, 2017).  One main societal issue found in this event is the inequity of water access.  As distance from the center of Buenos Aries increases, the likelihood of access to piped water and sanitation decreases.  According to the head of the Green Cross Argentina (GSA), Marisa Arienza, access to piped water has increased from 66% in 1991 to 89% today (Valente, 2011).  The demand for clean water and sanitation leads to the analysis of the resource in the environment.  This further develops designs to capture and distribute the resource in an inexpensive, sustainable, and impartial method.  The work done in WRE allows for designs to be implemented, allowing for a period of prosperity and further development in Buenos Aries, Argentina.


Faculty of Engineering. Sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering. The Islamic University in Madinah. Published 2015. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Saltiel G. How will Argentina achieve universal access to water and sanitation? Takeaways from International Water Association Conference in Buenos Aires. The Water Blog. Published December 18, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Valente M. Access to clean water in Argentina remains a work in progress, says report. The Guardian. Published December 16, 2011. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Williams T. Argentina, expanding availability of water and sanitation. International Water Association. Published April 17, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Lucas Cain makes this connection in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. This current event was reported in Al Jazeera, on December 18, 2017, under the title “Parched for a price: Karachi’s Water Crisis,” by Asad Hashim1. This information is supported by articles from reputable news sources such as The Guardian2 and the L.A. Times3.

In Karachi, Water Resources Engineers are running into obstacle after obstacle. So far, they have not been able to come close to supplying a sufficient quantity of safe water for public use. According to the article, only about half of the required water deemed appropriate by the UN for a city of this size is currently supplied. Water is supplied from Keenjhar Lake and the Indus River at a rate of 550 MGD. However, roughly 235 MGD is lost along the way, either from leakages or theft. According to Dawn News, as much as 91 percent of this water has been deemed unsafe to drink, due to the presence of coliform bacteria, turbidity, and other impurities4. These are outrageous numbers, especially when considering the number of people that are affected.  Karachi is the sixth largest megacity in the world, with a population of 24.3 million5. The importance of solving this issue can hardly be understated in such a fast growing, politically unstable region. The article covers most issues thoroughly, but fails to adequately address the issues that come with the unprecedented growth of the city. In the first decade of the millennium, Karachi was the fastest growing megacity in the world, growing in population by more than 80 percent6. Clearly, the government has not been able to keep up with this pace, and this is more than likely the reason for the high levels of fecal coliform.

Figure 1: The KWSB removes an illegal hydrant8

The water problem facing Karachi is multifaceted, with economic, environmental, and societal components. All the destabilizing factions of the city play a key role. The areas that face the most water shortages are by no accident the poorest. Corruption within the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and the police ensures that organized crime can steal water using illegal hydrants and sell it at overpriced rates where it is not available. Much of the city has no choice but to buy from these vendors. Furthermore, the water board is virtually bankrupt, with only about 60 percent of consumers paying their bill. It cannot keep pace with operational costs, let alone expanding its network with the growth of the city. Karachi is growing in an unplanned manner, and not all settlements even fall under the jurisdiction of the city. These people must find water for themselves. Motor operated wells can be installed, but in the areas where they are needed, few can afford them. The groundwater is too highly saline for consumption, so it is used for cleaning. A study from 2011 found that both the surface and groundwater of Karachi were polluted from a variety of sources of municipal and industrial wastes, with extremely high levels of nearly every type of pollutant. Similar conclusions were drawn regarding the need for increased regulations and enforcement7. Without public awareness, this problem will likely to persist. This is the best place to start to increase the availability of clean water in Karachi.


  1. Hashim, A. Parched for a price: Karachi’s water crisis. Al Jazeera. Published December 18, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  2. Toppa, S. Dry dams, leaky pipes and tanker mafias- Karachi’s water crisis. The Guardian. Published June 28, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2017.
  3. Rodriguez, A. Karachi ‘water mafia’ leaves Pakistanis parched and broke. Los Angeles Times. Published March 16, 2010. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  4. Ebrahim, Z. T. 91 percent of Karachi’s water is unfit to drink. Dawn. Updated July 31, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  5. Allaby M, Park C. A dictionary of environment and conservation. Oxford, United Kingdom. Oxford University Press, 2017.
  6. Kotkin J, Cox W. The world’s fastest growing megacities. Published April 8, 2013. Accessed February 2, 2018.
  7. Azizullah A, Muhammad NKK, Richter P, Häder DP. Water pollution in Pakistan and its impact on public health – A review. Environment International. 2011; 37 479-497 gj6dja.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1517608589&Signature=fjb2v%2FpofXKuOcHhRspb%2FX1LOGY%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DWater_pollution_in_Pakistan_and_its_impa.pdf Accessed February 2, 2018.
  8. Heavy machinery devastating an illegal hydrant during anti encroachment drive operated by Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) at Manghopir area in Karachi on Saturday, May 03, 2014. The News International. Published May 3, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our student Alexander Bleichner makes this connection in Chengdu, China.  This event was reported in The Telegraph, on July 03, 2015 under the title, “Chengdu’s Ecological Belt: new water system gets afloat”, by Li Yu and Peng Chao.  This project was also featured in Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design, as an example of an expanding city finding innovative ways to incorporate green space [2].  Smaller contributory projects within the Ecological Belt like the Xinglong Lake Project and Fanghuaxi River Project have also been touted by Chengdu Engineering Corporation Limited as illustrations of how they are using their expertise to enhance the community in which they are located [3].

Figure 1 JPEG

Figure 1: An aerial view of the center of Chengdu with the surrounding dark ring being the location of the Ecological Belt [2].

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan Province in the southwest region of China. It is the country’s fifth largest city and has seen steady growth over the last few decades. The city has a rich hydrologic history beginning over 2,000 years ago when the Shu people built the Dujiangyan irrigation system, making the valley Chengdu sits in, one of the most fertile regions in China. Chengdu has honored that history by protecting natural and agricultural landscapes, but as the city grew its wetlands, lakes, and rivers shrank. To combat this, in 2012 the Ecological Belt project was initiated. The project takes a ring of land in the city, shadowing the elevated inner ring expressway, and devotes that to ecological reconstruction. Some 500 meters on either side of the expressway are to be devoted to the reconstruction. The belt also follows the natural rivers and encompasses many wetlands and lakes and as part of the project they will be connected and enlarged to increase the area of city that is water [1]. Figure 1 shows a photograph of the Ecological Belt in a document from the Chengdu Planning Bureau [2]. This project falls under the ecological engineering sub-discipline of WRE or perhaps an urban engineering sub-discipline. By expanding and restoring close to 33,000 acres of parks, rivers, wetlands, and lakes Chengdu is taking large strides in reducing their urban footprint, one of the main goals of ecological engineering. This is good news for WRE because it sets a good example for other cities, not only in China but around the world to follow. With the help of publications like the Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design, previously motioned, design professionals, students, and everyday citizens will be exposed to this project in Chengdu and others like it around the world. One criticism of this current event article is that while it does a good job of creating a mental image of beautifully restored lakes and parks, it goes into little depth on the many ecological and environmental benefits the project would have, including, reducing urban heat, revitalizing aquatic life, flood control, etc.

The Ecological Belt will not only have environmental impacts (mentioned above) on the city of Chengdu, but it will have social and economic impacts as well.  In large urban areas, it is important to have space where the city residents can get a glimpse of nature and get some fresh air.  The parks and lakes along the belt will be a much-needed retreat from the large city and will increase the quality of life in Chengdu.  The current event article quotes an interviewed citizen ‘ “This place is so beautiful. The fresh air, the clear water, the lush grass and the flying birds all make me feel at ease,” said Liu Yuqiang, who picnicked by Jincheng Lake with his wife and son.  [1].  The Ecological Belt is a large up-front economic investment but the city hopes that the project will attract potential residents to the area and also be another tourist attraction.  In this way, revenue will be generated to help recover the costs.  Lastly, by keeping these areas clean Chengdu will not be in the situation of so many other cities; spending large sums of money to clean-up lakes and rivers and redeveloping wetlands, a more indirect but still substantial economic benefit.

The study “Urban green spaces and health, a review of evidence” by the World Health Organization (WHO) took a very detailed look at the health benefits of increased green space in cities and found improvements in everything from cardiovascular health, to sleep cycles, and even pregnancy outcomes [4].  This study and many others prove the cause-effect relationship between urban green space improvements, like the Ecological Belt, and the society surrounding.  The Ecological Belt in Chengdu, China is estimated to be completed by 2020.


 [1]- Yu L, Chao P. Chengdu’s Ecological Belt: new water system gets afloat. The Telegraph. Published July 3, 2015. Accessed January 29, 2018.

[2]- Beatley T. Handbook of Biophilic City Planning & Design. Washington, DC: Island Press; 2016.

[3]- Comprehensive Development of Water Environment. Powerchina Chengdu Engineering Corporation Limited. Accessed January 29, 2018.

[4]- Urban green spaces and health. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2016.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Nina Bellus makes this connection in New Delhi, India. This current event was reported in The Conversation on July 11, 2017, under the title “New Delhi is running out of water”, by Asit K. Biswas. Multiple researchers have published papers of ways to remediate this water crisis. It has been ongoing as a paper published by K.S Rajesh stated “Water consumption was allowed during a widespread water shortage” in 2004. This water shortage is real and a big problem.

ganges pollution

Figure 1. Excess pollution around the Ganges River

New Delhi Water Crisis

Figure 2. New Delhi citizens crowd water tank during water shortage

The dry and wet seasons in India can cause major problems during the year. Although there are months of constant rain, those months absent of rain cause water shortages throughout the nation. India has a population of over a billion and yet almost one billion people are facing severe water scarcity. Critical watersheds like the Ganges River are being contaminated or not replenished enough to support this megacity. This is important to WRE because of the lack of infrastructure and management needed to have an adequate water supply. To better understand the situation, rate of evaporation off the main watersheds and maximum daily demands should be known.

Economic bias is a problem in this situation where lower class citizens have less access to water. Households with running water only have access to clean water for a couple hours a day. If your house does not have running water, you must rely on bottled water which is costly. The Delhi Jal Board (responsible for water management) estimated “total distribution losses of around 40%”. Not only is the distribution lacking and unfair, but the water that is available is being contaminated. Our student Nina Bellus traveled to New Delhi this past December and witness tons of untreated waste water and industrial effluents entering streams and lakes. The water is heavily polluted. There is a lack of education when it comes to water sanitation and management that needs to be addressed. In 2015, Girish Gopinath published a paper on drought risk mapping in the Indian peninsula. He used a web application to map droughts to help prepare for and remediate effects of the dry season. As an aspiring WRE, one only hope there are more studies done to help reverse these negative effects and the economic and societal status of New Delhi improves to get the funding and education it needs to stop this water crisis.


Biswas, K Asit. New Delhi is running out of water. The Conversation. Published July 11, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018.

Gopinath G, Ambili G, Gregory SJ, Anusha C. Drought risk mapping of south-western state in the Indian peninsula – A web based application. Journal of Environmental Management. 2015;161:453-459. Accessed January 20, 2018.

Rajesh KS. Scientific approach of water management and conservation. ProQuest. 2004;16(1):51-58. Accessed January 20, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) is often overlooked because it isn’t one of the main engineering aspects. Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Elena Araya, makes this connection in Manila, Philippines. This current event was reported in Citiscope, on June 22, 2017, under the title, Manila hopes greening its shorelines will yield cleaner water and less flooding, by Keith Schneider. This current event demonstrates the importance of government and environmental agencies to work together in order to protect the public. Manila has limited amounts of freshwater reserves and they are being threatened by wastewater overflow during storm events. As the storms get worse, more people drown and get sick from the sewage overflow. Numerous techniques were used to address these issues including bamboo plantings and removing access fish pens in Laguna de Bay. Bamboo has been used for wastewater treatment in other areas because of its resiliency, dense root system, and its ability to soak up extra nutrients. To learn more about the benefits of bamboo to filter wastewater, see “Innovative system uses bamboo to treat wastewater”.


Figure 1. Eusebio Jacinto of the DENR during a bamboo planting to help Laguna de Bay’s problems with flood waters and erosion


Figure 2. Fish pens in Laguna de Bay

The Philippine Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) has come up with easy WRE solutions. By planting bamboo trees, more flood water can be absorbed and prevent lakeshore erosion (Figure 1). This solution is easy, cheap, and more effective than man-made products. The Philippine government also plans to replant bamboo and mangroves that were lost during development, a form of ecological engineering, thus, making Laguna de Bay cleaner. Another method being used by the DENR involves controlling the floating fish pens in Laguna de Bay (Figure 2). There is supposed to be an area limit for these fish pens, but it was discovered that the fish pens were occupying over 10 square miles more than what regulation allows. By regulating the number of fish pens, the toxicity of the wastewater will decrease. This current event is an important WRE event because it encompasses wastewater and ecological engineering to solve a problem that is all to real in today’s world. By implementing these engineering solutions, less people will die of drowning, sickness from raw sewage overflow, and have overall better health. However, the article failed to report the improvements of social and economic impact. There is a possibility that with these improvements, eco-tourism could develop to support the economy and the people in the immediate area.

This article mentions that extensive and expensive measures have been taken to curb the severe flooding but were not as effective as these small solutions. It is a subtle reminder that bigger is not always better. By using different approaches to this problem, the country and city ultimately saves time and money. Since the Philippines are constantly experiencing intense rain and storm events, infrastructure is constantly rebuilt due to the damage of flooding waters, and as we have learned in this article, the drinking water can become contaminated. If there isn’t enough clean water available to the entire population, then it becomes a money game to pay top dollar for safe water. The communities around the water ways are often overcrowded and impoverished. If no action was taken to solve this issue as discussed in the article, then the economy, environment, and society of the Philippines would be in jeopardy. It is important to stress the significance of economics, environmental, and societal issues in all societies because they are the three main components that affect people. When all these things come together, and the government protects and preserves them, then the people will be successful. This message is repeated in Jacinto’s chapter on the environmental challenges and opportunities that Manila Bay holds. It is stated that Manila Bay harbors commerce and trade between the Philippines and other nations (Jacinto, 2006). But this trade route could be easily destroyed by storm events and water contamination. It is reported that only 15% of the population is connected to the Metro Manila sewage system, and a substantial portion of the remaining 75% ends up in the bay which the people rely on for livelihood and a food source (Jacinto, 2006). The negligence of the government, and the cause-effect between flooding and society creates problems on every scale, subjecting the people, the economy, and the environment to suffer.


G.S. Jacinto, R.V. Azanza, I. B. Velasquez, F. P. Siringan (2006). Springer. The Environment in Asia Pacific Harbours.  Manila Bay: Environmental Challenges and Opportunities. Retrieved February, 13, 2018, from

Schneider, K. (2016, June). Citiscope. Manila hopes greening its shorelines will yield cleaner water and less flooding. Retrieved January 27, 2018, from