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

The article “Satellites track post-Sandy pollutants” from November 16th 2012 touches upon the negative tolls hurricane Sandy had on New York and New Jersey’s water resources. Gammon reports that Sandy caused wastewater overflows which resulted in bacterial and virus infection in the area’s waterways. Engineers estimate that millions of gallons of sewage dumped into the waterways after Sandy. To find plume paths of these pollutants, engineers and scientists have been utilizing satellites (images seen in Figure 1) to track the movement of these pollutants through the waterways. In the article Gammon makes the point that this overflow event was not the first for the area. Gammon states that there have been prior storms that have created similar events in the New York and New Jersey area before. Danielle Gaines backs this idea up in her article “Storm Causes Sewage Overflow” by stating that Hurricane Irene had a larger wastewater overflow in the same area. Just because the magnitude of pollution is not as large as in other storms does not mean that these satellites images for Sandy are not important. The main reason for collecting these images is that they can be utilized to create models for future storms. The ground water was affected as well, due to the flooding of homes and spillage into land areas instead of waterways. In my opinion Gammon’s article fails to point out that satellites can’t show the magnitude of the damage done to aquifers however the satellite images are great for waterway pollution prediction.


Figure 1: Hudson River Plume after Hurricane Sandy

In water resource engineering using the methods explained in Gammon’s article can be used to improve current systems and create prevention measures for future storms. With this knowledge engineers can use these findings and plan accordingly to protect aquifers and reservoirs from contamination. These findings are important because a wastewater overflow event like the one seen after hurricane sandy has shown major political, economical and social impacts. In terms of politics and economics, the state governments should have had engineers drawing up plans for improved wastewater systems to prevent future events from happening. The blame can be on the government for neglect or insufficient funds. In terms of effects socially it is safe to say that some parts of the long island sound and jersey shore are no longer swimmable due to the overflow event. These effects are explained in Danielle Gaines’s article, which goes into specific groups this event affected. She talks about the equipment the wastewater plants would need to prevent these events and covers the subjects that the initial article just brushes upon. Looking at the effects that huge storms have on areas like New Jersey and New York, it is safe to say that there should be some updates to wastewater plants and satellite imagery can help find out the critical sites to prioritize.


Gaines, Danielle. “Storm causes sewage overflow.” Fredrick News Post. N.p., 1 Dec 2012. Web. 4 Feb 2013.

Gammon, Crystal. “Satellites track post-Sandy pollutants.”Mother Nature Network. N.p., 16 Nov 2012. Web. 4 Feb 2013.

Signore , John. “Sandy’s Sewage Aftermath.” Gothamist. N.p., 30 Nov 2012. Web. 4 Feb 2013.