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

On February 9, 2013, BBC news reported on an article named, “Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by floods after heavy rain” This news article is related to hydrology, specifically the occurrence and distribution of water above land surface. To summarize the article, on February 8th, the countries along the Pacific Coast side of South America experienced a rain event of magnitudes seen for the first time. It was measured to be about 5 inches of rain that feel during the 7-hour storm. To put this into perspective, Peru receives an average of 1.5 inches of rain per month–that’s almost three months of rain in about seven hours! The article does a good job reporting the tragedies this event brought upon the people. There were at least six deaths reported in Peru, but the damage did not stop there. The copious amount of rain that fell caused mudslides, which contaminated two rivers that supply water to Chile’s capital. With that being said, more than four million people are being affected by this event, leaving them without drinking water and electricity. In addition, two bodies were found in a car that was buried in mud after a road collapsed. The article left out how San Jose de Maipo in Chile will be dealing with this problem. To my knowledge, floods of this magnitude are an important WRE issue. Such floods bring a lot of damage whether it is to our infrastructure or causing extensive erosion as a massive body of water flows rapidly transporting soil and sediments. The article mentions how in the previous week, Chile’s Atacam desert experienced a flash flood as well, causing similar damage. With the occurrence of these events within the past few weeks, the article failed to mention what action will be taken, if any, to aid in recovery. As a student studying to be a Water Resources Engineer, I believe it is important to take action in knowing how to respond to these meteorological events, which affect the quality, quantity, and availability of water.

This Hydrological flooding event impacts us on a global, economic, environmental and societal level. It affects us on a global and environmental broader context because according to NOAA, in recent years the average sea surface temperature has been increasing making every year seem like we are in an El Niño cycle and bringing these rain events into the eastern Pacific Coast near the Equator. As Water Resource Engineers we have to come up with solutions on how to control and distribute the increase in surface water that we have been getting and will continue to get. Likely, this impacts us economically, because if we do not come up with solutions on how to distribute this water, there is a nominal value associated with each rain event due to the infrastructure it ruins. However, how these events affect people is priceless. They are left to start from scratch and rebuild their lives having to cope with the loved ones they’ve lost.

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Figure 1. In Peru, thousands of people have been left without electricity and drinking water

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References:

“Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by floods after heavy rain.”BBC News 02 09 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-        21399408>.

 Lindsey, Rebecca. “In Watching for El Niño and La Niña, NOAA Adapts to     Global Warming.”NOAA 02 05 2013, n. pag. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.         <http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/article/2013/in-watching-for-el-nino-and-la-nina-noaa-adapts-to-global-warming&gt;.

“Torrential rain causes flood in Peru’s 2nd-largest city; at least 6 dead, many homes swamped Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/09/torrential-rain-causes-flood-in- peru-2nd-largest-city-at-least-6-dead-many/

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