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

The news entitled “A Cancer Cycle, From Here to China. It was reported by the New York times on January 11, 2013. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of the occurrence of water pollution and water treatment. The major point of this news is about more than one million Chinese people in city of Handan have a high risk of getting cancer due to drinking polluted water. This issue happened in Dec. 27th 2012. The Zhou Zhang River, the water resource of Handan city, was polluted by 39-tons of chemical spill from the Changzhi, the city in upstream of Zhou Zhang River. However, that city’s government did not try to control the bad consequence. On the countrary, they tried to keep the secret and allowed Handan people to drink water from that river. As we know, water pollution is a worldwide issue; many countries have that problem for long time. Water treatment system is the most useful way to solve this problem. Also, pollution prevention is a way to protect environment and people’s health (USEPA). However, many countries did not pay much attention to water treatment for many reasons.  I think the article left out the information about how government and companies need to prevent water pollution and improve water treatment system.

Water resource engineering considers the balance of human beings and hydrologic and hydraulic systems in the earth. The water pollution issue in this news story impacts the broader WRE context areas of society and environmental. This article impacts the societal context because water pollution in Zhou Zhang River caused the serious negative effect to people’s daily life. They have risk to get the cancer and people may blame government cannot protect them very well. From a research that reported by Harrison (2001), both people’s physical and mental health will be damaged by chemical substance from water pollution. If there is no safe drinking water can be provided, it will cause the disharmony between people and government. This conflict must have negative effect on social development. In closing, water pollution is a serious problem in the world. WRE should pay more attention to it and try to find better ways to solve it.

Figure1. Water pollution in Changzhi, China.

Figure1. Water pollution in Changzhi, China.


Harrison, Roy M. (2001). Pollution – Causes, Effects and Control (4th edition). Royal Society of Chemistry.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2013). Pollution prevention. http://www.epa.gov/p2/index.htm