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

The NPR News article “Floods in Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay Displace Tens of Thousands” was published on December 25, 2015. The WRE domain is hydrology, with the specific issue pertaining to flood event frequency and magnitude.  In summary, the article refers to serious flooding of the Paraguay and Parana rivers in December. These are two major rivers in the Rio de la Plata Basin, the second largest river basin in South America.  The flooding has displaced 150,000 people from their homes, as the river has raised 24 feet above its regular levels. Based on my engineering education, my informed opinion is that the facts and relations to WRE are accurate, but perhaps not complete. From previous class experience, we know that the damage of a flood is not only quantified in the number of human lives affected, but also economic and ecological damage. As was found from the satellite imaging from reliefweb.int, the images several days after the flooding event reveal that the flooding is much more extensive in Argentina, but the article specified that Paraguay was the worst hit country, simply because they most lives were directly affected there. Likewise, as theGreatRiverPartnership.org points out, there are other features along this river system such as Itaipu, the world’s largest hydroelectric power facility and Iguazu falls, a major tourist attraction, both economic powerhouses that were not considered in the article at all. The article was missing additional critical information regarding pollution and other ecological damage.

Of all the broader issues pertaining to water resource engineering, flooding is an issue of society, and economics. These broader context areas are defined as follows: social context is the interaction between individuals or groups of people, and economic context is the gain, loss or transfer of money or things that can be equated to some monetary value. Based on this article, it is clear that by needing to relocate people, there is a social implication as to how the government will deal with the number of people that must be relocated. Also, the destruction of property by the floods has large economic implications. Akwasi states in his paper that flooding has become more frequent in recent years, and leads to loss of life, homelessness and damage to infrastructure, as well as impacting education and agriculture. All of these are issues relating to economics and social interaction.








Figure 1— the effects of the flooding in South America via satellite imaging. Argentina and Paraguay are separated by the yellow line, with Paraguay on the left. It is clear that the land area effected is much greater in Argentina. Source—reliefweb.int


URL: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/12/25/461032598/floods-in-paraguay-argentina-and-uruguay-displace-tens-of-thousands



Akwasi A-A. THE IMPACT OF FLOODS ON THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC LIVELIHOOD OF THE PEOPLE OF KWAPROW. . Available at: http://www.academia.edu/8072453/_proposal_the_impact_of_floods_on_the_socio-economic_livelihood_of_the_people_of_kwaprow. Accessed April 29, 2016.


Paraguay-Paraná River System. Paraguay-Paraná River System 2012. Available at: http://www.greatriverspartnership.org/en-us/southamerica/paraguayparana/pages/default.aspx. Accessed April 29, 2016.


Flooding in Argentina. reliefweb.int 2016. Available at: http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/argentina_flooding_paraguay_river_worldview_landsat.pdf. Accessed April 29, 2016.