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

The article titled, “Worse than Poisoned Water: Dwindling Water, in China’s North” was reported by Didi Kirsten Tatlow, in the New York Times on February 15th, 2013. The article is related to the WRE domain of both hydrology and hydraulics. This issue is that pollution from a factory was spilled into a clean water resource and that even before the water was contaminated, fresh clean water in Northern China was dangerously low. In the end of December, the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group spilled about 39 tons of toxic chemicals. This spill polluted the clean drinking water in the surrounding area, China’s Shanxi province. Not only is drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people polluted, but other water resources are drying up. The United Nations said that China was one of the top countries with “extreme water shortages” (Tatlow). In 2006, China used 13 percent of the world freshwater, and even then over half of the cities in China had water shortage issues (Sekiguchi). The southern end of China has much better supply of rain water than the northern side of China. This is why the South-North Water Transfer Project has been presented as a solution. It will bring water from the South to the North to supply the cities and towns with clean water. The project is expected to cost about 62 billion dollars, and will divert 44.8 billion cubic meter of water a year (International Rivers). While this solution seems like a relatively good idea, one would have to account for the water supply to Southern China and how removing so much water will affect the people. Furthermore, there will be a lot of pipe network involved in transferring the water and that will lead to some problems.


Figure 1 – Warning sign about polluted water

The article should have commented more on other proposed solutions and the effect of these possible solutions. Also what happens if there are no solutions implicated? This article is very relevant to the current problems affecting every country. Water is one of the most important resources in the world, and it is running out. There are many issues facing countries with little to no clean water. Not only will people die without a clean water source, but many things are produced and run with water. Engineers have to come up with more efficient way of transporting water and preserving the fresh water resource. This will affect the country economically as well, like the proposed South-North Water Transfer Project for China. Pollution is also a huge problem in many countries. Pollution contaminates clean water and harms the environment surrounding the contamination. It is important to minimize these contaminates in the environment if not for the preservation of the land but for the health and lives of people.


Figure 2 – Planned route of the South-North Water Transfer Project



Tatlow, Didi K. “Worse Than Poisoned Water: Dwindling Water, in China’s North.” New York Times. N.p., 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Sekiguchi, Rylan. “Water Issues in China.” SPICE Stanford. N.p., Sept. 2006. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

“South-North Water Transfer Project.” International Rivers. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.