Archive for February, 2017


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Allison Harding makes this connection in Moscow, Russia. This current event was reported in Russia Beyond the Headlines online news, on September 5, 2014, under the title “Russia’s Battle with Water Pollution Continues”, by reporter Sophie Terekhova. An independent report written on February 9, 2009, under RT news also documented this event, increasing its reliability, and can be found at here.

Sources of safe drinking water are becoming few and far between as thousands of companies continue to unleash hazardous chemicals into our lakes and rivers each year, and the lack of sufficient purification technologies has only exacerbated the issue further, especially in the case of Russia.  In Russia, it has been found that a third of drinking water sources fail to meet acceptable standards due to chemical contamination.  Water quality is an important issue to address in WRE for the goal of this discipline is to efficiently supply water for human use.  It is estimated that humans use around 80-100 gallons of water a day; so when you take that into account for a whole population the size of Russia, then that’s a lot of potable water that needs to be adequately treated and distributed across a widespread area (Perlman, 2017).  According to a journal article by the Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, only “8% of the renewable water in Russia is in areas with 80% of the population” (Barenboim et al., 2013). So to deal with this high demand for potable water, especially in densely populated areas, the proper infrastructure and technology need to be installed; however this is still not the case completely yet in these highly urbanized areas like Moscow.  So this article was about the innovative new solutions for water purification being put in place around Russia’s urbanized areas to help water treatment plants better meet the water demand of Russia’s industries, residents, etc.  The article had a lot of qualitative detail about the water purification technologies, however it could have contained more quantitative information as well about the technologies’ potential impacts on the efficiency and design capacity of the water treatment plants.

This current development in water purification technology in Russia may have several socioeconomic and environmental impacts on the country as a whole.  The latest water purification system that the Novosibirsk Institute of Mining and a team of former equipment suppliers to Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy company, have been working on is called Aquifer (see Figure 1). This new technology is an ejector-dispersant that saturates the water intensively with oxygen, thereby oxidizing many impurities (such as iron) without the use of any catalyst loading.  Catalyst loading is a method usually employed by many water treatment plants, however it can be rather expensive and it requires constant replenishment, so this makes Aquifer a more economically viable option.  Also due to the fact that this system doesn’t have any mechanical moving parts, this technology is a big saver on energy costs – another economic advantage to treatment plants.  So the cost to install Aquifer at these plants may run a high initial cost, however in the long run, not only would Aquifer help treatment plants meet water demand more sufficiently but also more cost-effectively.  In terms of impacts on the environment and society, Aquifer is a much safer and effective method to disinfecting water than classic methods such as chlorination and ozonation.  These other methods are often utilized by water treatment plants however they are potentially more dangerous due to the chemicals involved; for example, chlorine especially is a chemical that is very difficult to store, transport, and use safely. If there is an accidental spill of chlorine, then there will be detrimental impacts on the surrounding environment and residents.  Also Aquifer has been shown to be more effective at purifying water sources so this will have a beneficial impact on the safety and health of the Russian society.  This need to address Russia’s long-standing water pollution issue was also documented in an article by the Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in 2013, which found that water insecurity in the most populated regions of Russia is primarily contributed to inadequate water quality and that better sanitation of the drinking water supply is needed in order to not further compromise the health, safety, and productivity of the society (Barenboim et al., 2013).

Figure 1. Aquifer water purification system developed by Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. (Source: 1st Petr, 2016)

Figure 1. Aquifer water purification system developed by Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. (Source: 1st Petr, 2016)

REFERENCES:

1st Petr Mikheev6.49 · Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Kobzev 2nd A, Zhukov 3rd I. Water purification without chlorine and UV (PDF Download Available). ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309728050_Water_purification_without_chlorine_and_UV. Published September 30, 2016. Accessed February 17, 2017.

Barenboim G.M., Danilov-Danilyan V.I., Gelfan A.N., Motovilov Y.G. On the problems of water quality in Russia and some approaches to their solution. Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences Journal. July 2013.

Perlman USGSH. Water Questions & AnswersHow much water does the average person use at home per day? Per capita water use. Water questions and answers; USGS Water Science School. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html. Accessed February 17, 2017.

Water resources engineering is an important factor when discussing social, economic and environmental concerns.  Our student Brandon Hanson makes this connection in Bangkok, Thailand.  This case study was reported in by the Asian Institute of Technology in 2011, under the name Identifying Prominent Explanatory Variables for Water Demand Prediction Using Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study of Bangkok, by Mukand Singh Babel and Victor R. Shinde, and brings up concerns of predicting water demand in the city of Bangkok.  This is a believable source as it describes how the Artificial Neural Network System models were developed to predict short term and long term water demands for Thailand as another article describing possible methods of evaluating artificial neural network techniques for municipal water demand here.

This study relates to water resources engineering tackling one of the big questions when managing water, predicting how much water do we need for an urban environment.  A method for predicting water demand accurately can allow engineers to better ration water for periods of emergency like fire or drought.  This is very important for a region like Thailand where the rainy season bring heavy rain that causes flooding and the dry season brings extensively long periods of drought.  It provides a system of predicting the water demand for a city based on climate variables such as rainfall and temperature to predict short term water demands.  However it was observed in the study that as the prediction time for the water demand increase, the accuracy with using only climate variables decreases. Longer periods of prediction required a combination of variables, including population, number of household connections, education status, per capita GPP, maximum temperature, rainfall and relative humidity.  Due to Bangkok being located in a particular tropical region, the relative humidity played a particularly important factor.  They could go into more details on the limitation of their system, they mention that their model is is particularly useful in generalization problems but not how this generalization can affect it’s accuracy for short term predictions.(Babel, 2010)

Figure1. Water service area and treatment plants of Bangkok Thailand (Babel, 2010)

Figure1. Water service area and treatment plants of Bangkok Thailand (Babel, 2010)

Thailand’s changing climate has been contributing to the instability and challenges.  The Central plains of Thailand have no water reservoir of their own and must rely on the dams in the northern region of the country to supply them with water.   Due to the long periods of drought each year has led to the decrease in the water flowing through the dams in Thailand. For the past few years Bangkok, as well as the surrounding country, has been affected by the most severe water shortage the country has had in the past two decades, with water rationing being imposed in some provinces and hotels told to minimize their laundry loads.(Suwal, 2007) This system for predicting water demand is both a social and economic concern, allowing people to predict the cost of delivering water as well as determining if there is enough water available for the residents. The short term models handles environmental concerns by scheduling pump  operations and reducing detention time in storage tanks, improving the water quality.

Figure 2. A tractor drives across the river bed of the Yom River, which dried out in January, in Phichit province in 2015.(Fernquest, 2015)

Figure 2. A tractor drives across the river bed of the Yom River, which dried out in January, in Phichit province in 2015.(Fernquest, 2015)

References

Suwal, S. (2007). Water In Crisis – Spotlight Thailand. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from https://thewaterproject.org/water-crisis/water-in-crisis-thailand

Babel, M., & Shinde, V. (2010, December 3). Identifying Prominent Explanatory Variables for Water Demand Prediction Using Artificial Neural Networks: A Case Study of Bangkok. Water Resources Management, 25(6), 1653-1676.

Fernquest, J. (2015, February 6). Water shortages nationwide as annual drought begins. Retrieved February 14, 2017, from http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-news/467401/water-shortages-bite-as-annual-drought-sets-in

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student William Grady, makes this connection in Tokyo, Japan. This current event was reported in Reuters Online News, on September 3, 2013, under the title, “Japan to spend almost $500 million on water crisis at Fukushima nuclear plant,” by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Mari Saito. This likely is real news due to the independent report published about Fukushima’s water issues in the New York Times.

This current event deals heavily with the water resources engineering disciplines of wastewater engineering and management. The main theme of the article is about Japan’s expansive attempt to clean up the Fukushima nuclear plant’s meltdown after the tsunami that hit it and caused the meltdown in March of 2011. Japan has pledged to use nearly $500 million to contain leaks from the plant, and decontaminate the radioactive water present. A large problem seen at the plant is the seeping of groundwater into the plant. The earthquake caused groundwater to leak into the plant and create contaminated radioactive water. To address this groundwater flow issue, Japan plans to build a massive underground wall of frozen earth around the damaged reactors (Figure 1.). This type of method is often used in digging subway tunnels, and is untested on the scale of the Fukushima power plant, and for the planned duration of years or decades for the frozen earth to be maintained. This influx of groundwater flow provides a big issue for Tepco, who runs the plant. If this groundwater continues to flow into the plant, and the removal of the water is not quick enough, the radioactive water will flow into the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, the aboveground tanks where the radioactive water is stored are prone to leakage (Figure 2.). The amount of water they are storing in these leak prone tanks is enough to fill 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This leaking of radioactive water can have profound effects.

Figure 1. Proposed Frozen Wall to stop groundwater flow into Fukushima Power Plant (NY Times)

Figure 1. Proposed Frozen Wall to stop groundwater flow into Fukushima Power Plant (NY Times)

Figure 2. Tanks used to store contaminated water at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. (NY Times)

Figure 2. Tanks used to store contaminated water at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. (NY Times)

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are fundamental to any water resources engineering issue and environmental issue. Sustainability can often be defined by the triple bottom line, which is the economic, environmental, and environmental effects of a given project. The Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup relates heavily to economic issues, because the cost of the intended project is nearly $500 million. This will likely cause the company of Tepco to lose a lot of profits and also cause tax payers money. Additionally, if the groundwater flow into the plant is not stopped, then costs could rise exponentially, due to the fact of continuous need to cleanup radioactive water. The radioactive water cleanup relates to environmental issues because the nuclear meltdown and radioactive waste can harm people. Most of the contaminated water leaking from the plant is confined to the harbor around the plant and is not a threat to foreign nations. Most of the radiation is traveling on ocean currents to the Western United States, but is expected to be diluted within water safety standards by the time it reaches it. In addition, the radiation can be harmful to humans. The radiation caused many of the neighboring coastal areas to be cleared of residents for safety issues. The radioactive water cleanup and disposal also relates to societal issues. The radiation displaced many people from there nearby homes. The closest towns to the plant remain off-limits to the public, but some residents have started to return to their homes less than 20 km away. Additionally, the main diet in Japan consists of fish and the radiation could potentially contaminate fish within the area, and then effect the people who may eat them. According to Steinhauser, Brandl, and Johnson (2013), the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in Russia in 1986 caused many people to be evacuated from the area and caused people to develop health defects. They state that the evacuation of the area was much less organized in Chernobyl and the meltdown was less contained, so the environmental impacts were much greater (2013). Chernobyl was at a much greater scale and effected more people and altered some of the surrounding wildlife (2013). The cause-effect between the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima and the impact to society occurs when irresponsible water and wastewater management practice, can lead to contamination issues, the displacing of people from their homes, and the potential development of health defects within the people exposed to the waste.

Reference
Steinhauser G, Brandl A, Johnson T. Comparison of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents: A review of the environmental impacts in Science of The Total Environment. 2014; vol. 470-471: pp. 800–817.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Jeffrey Frelier makes this connection in Guangzhou, China. This current event was reported in Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, on June 17, 2011, under the title Water and Informality in Guangzhou by Britta Bockhorn. This is likely real news based off this article describing the Pearl River in similar condition as what was described in the main article.

This news about over population and its impacts on water relates to water resources engineering, in the specific areas of water quality and urban development. The article specifically addresses urban villages which are previously rural areas that have recently become part of the city Guangzhou with the increase in its area. The article also mentions the deteriorating water quality of the Pearl River adjacent to Guangzhou noting that its surface water is a grade V, the worst Chinese water quality standard. It also addresses the fact that pollution entering the river comes from agriculture, domestic sewage, and rubbish. One aspect I wish the writer had gone into more depth with was what can be done to fix the problem and how it got as bad as it is. Is the issue a lack of regulations, lack of enforcement, lack of technologies or some combination of all three?

Economic, environmental and societal issues are all relevant to the issue of population increase and water pollution. Increasing populations have an environmental impact because as populations increase they require more resources and put additional stress on the environment. Water pollution can also cause economic issues as there is a monetary cost to remediate damaged water systems. The environment can also suffer as a result of water damage because it can cause harm to ecosystems. Economic and societal issues are addressed under the section labeled Informal Processes as it addresses the how the urban villagers have given up farming and found other means of living. Environmental issues are the focus of the section labeled urban water resources where it describes the cause and extent of pollution of both surface and ground water near Guangzhou; including untreated sewage (see figure 1) . It is well known in the scientific world that population growth can cause environmental problems. One article also illustrates this well. The general idea of the cause and effect relationship between over population and water quality is that as populations grow they require more resources, those resources turn to waste and that waste turns to pollution.

Figure 1 Raw Sewage being dumped directly into river

Figure 1 Raw Sewage being dumped directly into river

References

Bockhorn BB. Water and Informality in Guangzhou. Water and Megacities. http://www.waterandmegacities.org/water-and-informality-in-guangzhou/. Accessed February 10, 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Michael Egan, makes this connection in Dhaka, Bangladesh.  This current event was reported in Environmental Geochemistry And Health in 2014, under the title, Investigation of severe water problem in urban areas of a developing country: the case of Dhaka, Bangladesh, by Mst. Shamsun Nahar. This study is supported in an article by independent source, The Guardian, explaining the declines availability of Dhaka’s safe drinking water.

This article discusses the evaluation of water supply geochemistry in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The study was done in order to obtain detailed trace level water quality data. This is a fundamental step in any engineering process; figuring out what the problem is. Information such as major ions, dissolved oxygen levels, and toxic trace metals within the groundwater was needed in order to define the problem. This process is one of the first steps taken before any clean-up or in-field work should be done. It is vital to the success of any project, especially a WRE one given the many moving parts within an ecosystem. With urban area development being a major recent factor throughout the world, water resource engineering will become an increasingly difficult field for engineers. This is why it is important news that a developing country such as Bangladesh would be proactive regarding the investigation of the safety of their drinking water. While the main focus of this article was not to provide solutions to the problem, it would have tied the article together to at least mention how the recently-defined problem is often solved.

Figure 1: Ground water depth in Dhaka from 1996-2008

Figure 1: Ground water depth in Dhaka from 1996-2008

When it comes to drinking water, large amounts of money will always be involved. Being such an essential resource, drinking water in any area affects the economy and societal issues within a region, especially one of large population such as Dhaka. Shortage of safe drinking water for the city of 15 million will inevitably cause deaths and tragedy. It will cost a lot of money to remove any harmful contaminants from the drinking water and provide sustainable clean drinking water developments. An article by Journal of Scientific Research focused on the surface water pollution around a Dhaka export processing zone and its impacts on surrounding aquatic environment. Five water samples were taken varying in distance from the stationary effluent outlet. Parameters including color, pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and biochemical oxygen demand, were measured .Results indicated the surrounding aquatic environment is contaminated by many pollutants released by the processing zone causing major concern for the health of many species within that ecosystem. Testing Dhaka’s drinking water shed light on contaminants within the water as well as some fundamental water properties that affect the environment. This knowledge will help engineers avoid further contamination and lead them down a path of restoration of a healthier environment and a healthier people.

References:

Islam, M. S., A. Sultana, M. S. Sultana, M. Shammi, and M. K. Uddin. “Surface Water Pollution around Dhaka Export Processing Zone and Its Impacts on Surrounding Aquatic Environment.” Journal of Scientific Research 8.3 (2016): 413. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

Nahar, Mst. Shamsun, Jing Zhang, Akira Ueda, and Fujishiro Yoshihisa. “Investigation of Severe Water Problem in Urban Areas of a Developing Country: The Case of Dhaka, Bangladesh.” Environmental Geochemistry and Health 36.6 (2014): 1079-094. Web.

“Safe Drinking Water Disappearing Fast in Bangladesh.” Guardian Development Network. Guardian News and Media, 07 May 2013. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Cusick makes this connection in New Delhi, India. This current event was reported in CNN, on Thursday February 25, 2016, under the title “Protests Throw Light on India’s Water Crisis” by reporter Huizhong Wu. An independent source, British National Daily Newspaper The Guardian, has documented this current event on February 22, 2016 for increased reliability citing that Delhi is the midst of a water crisis due to canal damage by protesters.

A west Delhi resident, Sudhir Goswami, is quoted saying, “When there’s no water, there’s no life” in relation to his struggles with water access. New Delhi’s current water crisis is an excellent example of a city that is in dire need of a new water and wastewater infrastructure. With only three hours of running water a day, residents of New Delhi suffer from the unreliability and non-potable of the current water conditions. When protests went array over job quotas, approximately 17 million people were affected by the damaged, open-flowing Munak Canal (Figure 1). The current conditions of New Delhi directly relates to the field of WRE because it shows the implications of an outdated and failing water infrastructure system, in which water pipes are inefficient and cross contaminated with the city’s sewer lines (Figure 2). New Delhi demonstrates the demand for proper WRE management. A nonoperational water system is affecting the daily lives of New Delhi’s residents and is not generating enough revenue to cover the cost of its maintenance. By poor administration and negligence, the residents of New Delhi are forced to drink contaminated water if they cannot afford bottled water. This report failed to mention how WRE authorities plan to resolve the water crisis and how they will maintain it to ensure that the residents of New Delhi are never faced with this hardship again. CNN’s report lacked sufficient information about the age, building materials, maintenance and possible health complication arising from the declining infrastructure.

Figure 1. One of the damaged areas on Mulak Canal by the week-long protests of the Jat caste for more accessibility to civil service careers.

Figure 1. One of the damaged areas on Mulak Canal by the week-long protests of the Jat caste for more accessibility to civil service careers.

Figure 2. An example of an open wastewater canal that flows into bodies of water used as New Delhi’s water supply. Adopted from Hindustan Times

Figure 2. An example of an open wastewater canal that flows into bodies of water used as New Delhi’s water supply. Adopted from Hindustan Times.

New Delhi’s current water crisis is a trifecta of the environmental, economic and societal implications of a WRE-related calamity. This issue sheds light on the financial stratification dominating New Delhi’s society, which affects the accessibility to clean drinking water. In terms of the economy, there is little government support and financial funding to properly dispose and rebuild a new water system. The municipal water supply is not providing its citizens with safe drinking water. Environmentally, the decrypted infrastructure of the water system could have serious implications on the health of its residents. One study in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia has advocated that the corrosion of distribution pipes have leaked copper, zinc and iron into daily drinking water. In short, the older the age of the infrastructure, the greater the metal contamination that can lead to negative human health issues (Alam & Sadiq 1989). Similar water crises have threatened areas close to home in Washington D.C., Flint, Michigan, and St. Joseph, Louisana as people struggle to have access to clean and safe drinking water through proper WRE planning and maintenance. For those who cannot afford to buy bottled water, they are faced with the hardship of storing water in tanks when possible and using water that is dirty and smelly, according to resident Sudhir Goswami. The Annual Review of Environment and Resources have also demonstrated the impact of water contamination on society. According to Schwarzenbach et al., water quality has become a major concern to human health after chemical contamination (2010). Especially in developing countries, such as India, the toxins released from neglected metal water infrastructure create preventable waterborne diseases. With almost 1.1 billion people without access to potable water and another 2.6 billion people without proper sanitation, water contamination is a growing problem to society’s health, economy, and local environment (Schwarzenbach et al. 2010).  Without the proper economic funding for an updated drinking water and wastewater treatment system, the residents of New Delhi, India will continue to have unreliable and limited access to cross-contaminated water. Not only does the cause and effect relationship between New Delhi’s economy and its resident’s health, but also the environmental impact of mismanaged and neglected water and wastewater systems.

References

Alam IA, Sadiq M. Metal contamination of drinking water from corrosion of distribution pipes. Environmental Pollution. 1989;57(2):167-178. doi:10.1016/0269-7491(89)90008-0.

Schwarzenbach RP, Egli T, Hofstetter TB, von Gunten U, Wehrli B. Global Water Pollution and Human Health. Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 2010;35. doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-100809-125342.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Daniela Cruz makes this connection in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This current event was reported by the Inter Press Service News Agency on September 15, 2015 under the title “How to Fix Environmental Woes in Buenos Aires Shantytown” by Fabiana Frayssinet. The news reported here is likely real news, based on a recently published book that touches on the water problems faced in Buenos Aires, Argentina called “The Politics of Fresh Water: Access, Conflict, and Identify.”

The environmental woes described in this article relate to water resources engineering, specifically in the area of wastewater treatment and sanitation. Currently, in the shantytown called Villa Inflamable, the lack of sanitation and clean water is affecting the health of the community members that inhabit it. The source of these problems? The 64-km Matanzas-Riachuelo River that serves Buenos Aires municipalities before flowing in the Rio de Plata. Because of companies polluting the river with their petrochemical plants, oil refineries, chemical and fuel storage, and toxic waste processing plants, the river has become a “swamp surrounded by trash” and “functions as a natural sewer in the neighborhood.” According to the article, of the 5 million people living near the river basin, 35% of them have no piped water and 55% have no sewage services. Because of this, in 2008, the Supreme Court ordered the Matanza-Riachuelo Basin Authority to clean up the area by converting factories, cleaning the river and riverbanks, garbage collection and treatment, water treatment and drainage works, as well as slum redevelopment and relocation. This would include thousands of projects, all to be completed by 2024, while some projects have been started, there is still a long way to go. The article failed to include the fact that even though cleanup is occurring, companies have to acknowledge that they were part of the blame, and committing the same mistakes again will put them back to where they started.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are important in Buenos Aires because in the end they all affect one another and can be detrimental to the city in the long run. Economically, pollution in the river is costing the government more to “fix” than to have prevented it in the first place. The aforementioned project plan will cost around 4 billion dollars, and it could have been saved if more money went into maintaining a wastewater and sanitation system. Environmentally, if garbage and sewage continue being dumped in the river, it runs the risk of killing vegetation within it, possibly destroying the aquatic ecosystem. While economic and environmental issues are important, the societal issues are far more serious because the people of the Villa are suffering health issues. The children within this Villa are paying the price with large concentrations of lead in their blood, causing learning disabilities. In the article, a community member said that both of her daughters were suffering from lead poisoning, and another said that her children in 3rd and 4th grade still don’t know how to read because of these disabilities. Lead poisoning can also stunt growth, cause hyperactivity, and impair hearing. This problem can also be seen in Flint, Michigan where the people are also suffering because of lead in their water sources and their governments slowly taking action to resolve the problem (Kennedy, 2016).

Figure 1. Industrial area surrounding the river, contributing more than 1,254 toxic substances

Figure 1. Industrial area surrounding the river, contributing more than 1,254 toxic substances

Figure 2. Street of Villa Infamable shantytown, where population is exposed to toxic waste caused by pollution.

Figure 2. Street of Villa Infamable shantytown, where population is exposed to toxic waste caused by pollution.

References

Ashcraft CM, Mayer T. The politics of fresh water: access, conflict and identity. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group; 2017.

Frayssinet, F. How to Fix Environmental Woes in Buenos Aires Shantytown. http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/09/how-to-fix-environmental-woes-in-buenos-aires-shantytown/; 2015.

Kennedy, M. Lead-Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis. Npr.org; 2017, from http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/465545378/lead-laced-water-in-flint-a-step-by-step-look-at-the-makings-of-a-crisis.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Alison Coughlin makes this connection in Chengdu, China. This current event was reported in Remote Sensing and GIS for Hydrology and Water Resources in 2015, under the title, Development of Chengdu and sustainable utilization of the ancient Dujiangyan Water- Conservancy Project, by Xiaorong Huang. This is likely real news, based on another article by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization explaining the Dujiangyan Irrigation system, online.

The article focus on predicting the water resources demand for Chengdu, China. Chengdu has an increase in water demand because of rapid urbanization. To predict the water demand, including demands in agriculture, population increase, industry and urban life, the Policy Dialogue Model (PODIUM) was used. This directly relates to water resources engineering with a focus in water resources planning and management. It is important to know that this is happening all over the world. Rapid population growth causes many environmental issues, including an increase of water demand. To meet the needs of Chengdu the Dujiangyan irrigation project will be switching from agricultural to urban water use and the Min River demand will be increased for urban water supply. Figure 1 illustrates the water supply volumes in 2007, and predictions for 2020 and 2030. I think the article could have discussed more how PODIUM was used to make these predictions.

Figure 1 A bar graph illustrating the water supply volume for the year 2007 and predictions for 2020 and 2030 for Chengdu, China.

Figure 1 A bar graph illustrating the water supply volume for the year 2007 and predictions for 2020 and 2030 for Chengdu, China.

According to the news article, “Water resources demand prediction includes three parts: the prediction of economic and social development, economic and social water demand and ecologic environment water demand.” Water demand affects Chengdu economically, environmentally, and socially because if there is not enough water the city will not thrive. The main reason Chengdu grew so rapidly is because of their rivers and high water supply. If they do not have an adequate water supply to meet the growing needs of the people of Chengdu, many people will leave. If people leave, the economy will decrease. Because of this, population increase and social change is taken into consideration when predicting the water demand. To predict the water demand, they also have to predict the economic and social development of Chengdu. Since Min River is Chengdu’s main water source right now and for future water demands, the water quality has to meet the environmental requirements. The water demand project will focus on keeping the Min River area environmentally clean. I discovered that population growth all over the world has a great impact on water demand. An article by UN Water, states between 2009 and 2050, the population of the world will increase by 2.3 billion. The urban areas of less developed regions will grow, meaning more people will not have access to adequate drinking water (Water, 2014). The cause-effect between water demand and impact to society occurs when rapid urbanization takes place, thus increasing water demand, subjecting a city to re-plan and design an ancient water system.

Reference

Water and Urbanization in The United Nations Inter-Agency Mechanism on All Freshwater Related Issues, Including Sanitation, Oct. 2014. Retrieved from http://www.unwater.org/topics/water-and-urbanization/en/

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Caroline Bond makes this connection in Manila, Philippines. This current event was reported in Citiscope, on June 23, 2016, under the title, Cleaning up Manila’s Pasig River, one tributary at a time, by Anna Valmero. This is a believable news story, based on a report from 2011 that stated that Benzotriazole ultraviolet stabilizers (BUVSs), a component of many consumer products, including plastics, building materials and personal hygiene products were found in fishes collected and analyzed from Manila Bay. Manila Bay is fed by the Pasig River. To find more about the accumulation of plastic byproducts in the Manila Bay area, see “Contamination and bioaccumulation of benzotriazole ultraviolet stabilizers in fish from Manila Bay, the Philippines using an ultra-fast liquidchromatography–tandem mass spectrometry”, available online.

This is a WRE story at its core because the solution to keep the water ways clean from pollution requires engineered prevention and continued treatment of contamination. The main message of this article, is that cooperation by both the government and the community is essential for implemented solutions to work. This is important news because it is a success story. In the past year since the project was technically completed, heavy rains have flooded some parts of Manila. Noticeably however, the project has succeeded in keeping the neighborhood around Estero de Paco above water. This article failed to mention in detail the timeline of the problem from the beginning to the end. To know how long the time was between the mere annoyance of a few plastic things floating around to the findings of the bioaccumulation in the Manila bay fish, to the beginnings of restorative efforts until the end result of clear waters would be helpful in order to fully gage how effective the response was.

Figure 1. The cleanup of Manila's Estero de Paco pictured above has become a model for other rehabilitative efforts around other rivers in Manila like the Pasig River.

Figure 1. The cleanup of Manila’s Estero de Paco pictured above has become a model for other rehabilitative efforts around other rivers in Manila like the Pasig River.

Manila is a coastal city, constantly subjected to flooding, when waterways are clogged with garbage to the extent seen in (Figure 1) they lose their ability to drain efficiently. Even moderate rains can quickly overwhelm the river causing flooding to wash up loads of garbage in some cases the same garbage residents tried to dispose of (in the stream) hours earlier. According to Takeuchi (2002) flooding is the most deadly natural disaster, responsible for claiming 40 million more lives just between 1993 and 1997 than drought, winds, landslides, and volcanic eruptions combined. The wastes in standing water have many negative health impacts as they can host mosquitoes and bacterial diseases like leptospirosis which out broke in 2009 after Typhoon Ketsana left Manila submerged for weeks. However the ultimate environmental goal was to stem the flow of waste into Manila Bay where it was being ingested by, and absorbed by, and disrupting the sea life causing still unknown health impacts along food chains. Floods are an economic issue because it disrupts local economies and causes a lot of damage repeatedly. Economically it was struggle for Manila with a highly impoverished community to get behind this project off the ground including a new sewer system however I believe that the benefits will soon outweigh the costs. The constructed wetlands serve a dual purpose as they protect against flooding and create green space which has helped build community, lower the frequency of crime, and bring back tourism to the area as the foul odor that once lingered has mostly left the area. It has also been noted that as a whole inhabitants of manila, are not suffering from illnesses and asthma attacks as much as before. This is a hidden economic benefit as families are now saving money on health related costs.

Reference: Takeuchi, K. (2002, January ). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from Research Gate, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228558237_Keynote_lecture_Floods_and_society_a_never-ending_evolutional_relation