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

The water resources related article I chose to address was, Rescuers help Australia flood victims as waters recede from BBC News, reported on January 29, 2013. This WRE news report covers topics within the domain of both hydrology and hydraulics. Hydraulics is applied through the use of mechanics in levees and storm water systems to mitigate floods. Hydrology is applied when predicting the distribution and movement of these flood areas through the study of both drainage basin management and surface hydrology. The flood’s impact on water quality is also evaluated and controlled when necessary. The article reports that Australia’s northeastern state of Queensland is still suffering from flooding due to the aftermath of tropical cyclone Oswald. Six people are known to be dead due to the severe weather, 17 injured, and 7,500 evacuated. Crocodiles were spotted walking on roads in flood affected areas. Along the coast of Maroochydore, Queensland residents received massive amount of sea foam as it washed ashore. The wind and waves from tropical cyclone Oswald along with organic matter in the water off the coast churned up 10 feet of dense foam. Many areas received up to 40 cm of rain from tropical cyclone Oswald, accumulating about 20 cm in 24 hours. More than 50 cm of rain fell in 24 hours throughout parts of Rockhampton, Queensland. Fortunately, no dams were damaged and no levees were breached throughout this event and water reservoirs were replenished after one of Australia’s warmest summers on record. According to SEQwater© two dams had to release water from the flooding and almost all other dams reached 90 % capacity, significantly reducing the amount of flooding downstream (SEQwater). Based on my knowledge of WRE, the news story accurately reported on the significant WRE problem of flooding. I think the article should have forewarned the reader that according to Australia’s climate commission, global warming is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events (Rourke). 

The hydrologic and hydraulic issue of flood and flood control addressed in this report directly relates to the broader context of societal, economics, and environmental. The term societal context refers to the variation of human relationships based on present and past events. This flooding will impact the community’s awareness and preparation for future flooding events. The resulting damage from the flood will negatively affect Australia’s economy as a nation. Many individuals were devastated after losing their lifesavings. Mel Jay has investigated and published in his article how the common flood produces fatalities and economic damage throughout history. The environment was negatively and positively affected by flood. One negative aspect was the spread of contaminated water from non-point sources into reservoirs, rivers, and the ocean. One positive aspect was the rain replenishing the reservoirs and soils after one of the longest recorded droughts in Australia. 


Figure 1-Floodwaters cover the central Queensland city of Bundaberg


Figure 2-Ocean foam surge in Brisbane, Queensland


“Rescuers Help Australia Flood Victims as Waters Recede.” BBC News. BBC, 29 Jan. 2013.        Web. 03 Feb. 2013.

SEQwater. “Flood Operations Centre.” News. Proc. of Media Update. N.p., 27 Jan. 2013. Web.   03 Feb. 2013.

Rourke, Alison. “Tropical Cyclone Oswald Lashes Queensland.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 28 Jan. 2013. Web. 03 Feb. 2013.

Jay, Mel. “Recent Natural Disasters – the Worst Floods.” HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb.        2013.