Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Louis Lafata makes that connection here:

The news entitled “It’s Time to Act, Mr. President” was reported on by conservation associate Fay Augustyn from the American Rivers Organization on February 1st, 2013. This news pertains to the general domain of hydrology and water resources engineering. The specific issue addressed is the need for congress to revise the Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies (P&G), which is related to the occurrence and movement of storm water runoff in urban areas. Augustyn expresses concern related to how long ago the most recent P&G information was released. She positively mentions that the EPA is updating its storm water programs and notes the Interagency Climate Change Task Force’s National Action Plan for Freshwater, but she believes that the president should take responsibility to come up with a more sustainable approach by completing the update to the P&G that guide the Corps of Engineers as well as other agencies with water relates issues pertaining to navigation, water supply and flooding. The article states that the current rules are 30 years old and that the benefits provided by rivers and wetlands like clean water, recreation, fish and wildlife habitat, and flood management aren’t adequately included in the decision making process. Augustyn’s point is a very important one. With the rise of more extreme weather events, our society should work hard to ensure that the infrastructure and population that we have today are well protected in a sustainable fashion. She is correct in that the number of extreme weather events has increased, according to NASA (Finnerman, 2013). However, Augustyn could have commented more about what the president has done in starting the revision process to the P&G. He has begun revisions in his first term, and has simply not reached an end result.

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Figure 1 – Stormwater in Washington, DC | Lynnette Batt

This issue lies in the political, environmental and economic domains of society. Augustyn reaches out to expose the facts that our nation is well on its way to becoming more sustainable, but we definitely need to keep on track, as sustainability’s importance cannot be overlooked. These principles and guidelines that need to be revised will encourage sustainability not only in an economic manner, but also more heavily in an environmental manner. Revising these guidelines to meet the needs of today’s society and infrastructure in the mot efficient way possible is crucial. If these guidelines are not improved, then future extreme weather events can begin to paralyze neighborhoods and cities that do not have the infrastructure to handle the event. There can be increased urban flooding due to poor drainage or increased pollution due to poor waste management systems, for example. Therefore to protect our environment as well as existing population and infrastructure, we need to act quickly and sustainably.

More information can be found about the updates to the P&G at http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ceq/initiatives/PandG

More information can be found about the EPA’s National Water Program 2012 Strategy at:

http://water.epa.gov/scitech/climatechange/2012-National-Water-Program-Strategy.cfm

References

Augustyn, Fay. “Its Time to Act, Mr. President.” Web Blog post. Americanrivers.org. N.p., 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2013.

“EPA Releases National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change.” Water.Epa.Gov. Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

Finneran, Michael. “More Extreme Weather Events Forecast.” NASA.gov. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 16 Jan. 2013. Web. 05 Feb. 2013.

“Updated Principles and Guidelines for Water and Land Related Resources Implementation Studies.” Whitehouse.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Feb. 2013.

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