Archive for March, 2017

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and social issues. Our student Erik Ranftle makes this connection in Lima, Peru. This current event was reported in the China Internet Information Center, on March 20, 2017 under the title, Peru hit by drinking water shortage, by the Xinhua News Agency. This is likely real news due to the independent report published on the New Tang Dynasty Television website about the lack of drinking water in Lima, Peru on March 20th, 2017, at here.

This news about water quality during the major flood relates to water resources engineering because the solution to the problem and future prevention will call for engineered solutions. The key message in this article deals with issues faced by WRE during flooding in Peru. The main issue that is faced is finding a way to provide drinking water to the 567,551 people affected by this natural disaster in Lima, Peru. The article talks about how Peru has a great many sources of drinking water. However, access to it does not reach its 30 million residents. During this flood, eight million Peruvians do not have drinking water and are obliged to rely on tanker trucks, usually not receiving enough for basic sanitary requirements. This is very important for WRE because has of March 20, 2017 death toll nationwide has climbed to over 70, with 170 injured and nine missing. It is important that a solution is found before more lives are lost in Lima Peru. The article was missing information on how to supply residence with the drinking water. The article mentions that there are some ideas to control the situation for example the Prime Minister has called on residents to take extreme care of the limited water and to ration its use, while expressing hope the strong rains will stop. The article does explain any method that could be taken right away to supply citizens with a new supply of drinking water. The plain seems to just want to wait till the flooding stops so that the SEDAPAL can begin processing water normally again.

Figure 1: A group of people, stranded in flood waters, hold onto a rope as they struggle through flood waters to safety in Lima, Peru, on March 17, 2017.

Figure 2: A group of people, stranded in floodwaters, walk to safety in Lima on March 17, 2017.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are related to the issues in Lima Peru. Floods relates to economic issues, because floods can destroy property. It leaves many people homeless. Floods also relates to environmental issues. This is because floods can deliver large amounts of pollutants stored on land into the receiving waters. This is what causes the drinking water to become contaminated. Floods also relate to societal issues. This is true because Floods can injure and even kill humans. Drowning is the main cause of people losing their lives during floods. The death toll nationwide has climbed to over 70, with 170 injured and nine missing in Lima, Peru as of March 20th 2017. Based on a report from Doocy (2013), floods are the most common natural disaster and the leading cause of natural disaster fatalities worldwide. There were 539,811 deaths, 361,974 injuries and 2,821,895,005 people affected by all floods between 1980 and 2009. The cause-effect between flooding and the impact to society occurs when water over flows the river tops usually due to excessive rain. As a result, people are exposed to fast moving debris and the possibility of drowning.



Doocy, S., Daniels, A., Murray, S., & Kirsch, T. D. (2013). The Human Impact of Floods: a

Historical Review of Events 1980-2009 and Systematic Literature Review. PLoS Currents, 5, ecurrents.dis.f4deb457904936b07c09daa98ee8171a.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Richard Monaco makes this connection in New York City (NYC). This current event was reported in the Brooklyn Paper on February 1, 2017 under the title, Dangerous levels of lead found in Bay Ridge Middle School’s drinking water by Caroline Spivack. This story is backed up by an article by the Daily News which mentions the Bay Ridge middle school and it’s elevated lead levels.

The news about lead levels relates to WRE in the area of municipal water distribution systems. This is important to us, because as humans our lives are centered around water. From the dawn of civilization, mankind has established tribes and cities where there is access to water. Water is essential to life, and it becomes an issue when this water isn’t safe to drink. And as Engineers, the safety, health and general welfare of the public must be held paramount. However as important as this is, in order to correct the problem, we must know what caused it (which unfortunately isn’t outright stated in the Brooklyn Paper article).

NYC is a very diverse city socio-economically speaking. From the poorest of the poor, to those who can afford to live in a penthouse apartment that overlooks central park, NYC is home to these, and everyone in-between. This is to the point where you’ll have areas that are inundated with wealth, while across the street will be low income housing and many people who live barely above, or even below the poverty line. Before the age of regulation, NYC came to be very dirty and polluted, as well as a very smoggy city. Figure 1 shows an image of the Manhattan skyline during a specific event known as the “1966 New York City Smog”. Lead levels relate to environmental issues under the scope of environmental health (more specifically, the environment around humans, and how does it affect human health). This specific case doesn’t necessarily relate to the socio-economic issues, however in the case of Flint Michigan we have an example of elevated lead levels in an area that is both poor (41.2% of residents live below the poverty line) and predominantly (56.6%) African-American (Library). As this crisis unfolded on the national stage the issue was raised of the old pipes in the neighborhood that were never replaced at the end of their life expectancy, and if it had to do with the socio-economic background of the citizens. Mandour et al.(2013) reported on the correlation between lead levels in drinking water, and lead levels found in mothers’ breast milk. Fifty-two drinking water samples, and fifty-two breast milk samples were taken. A positive relationship between lead levels in the water, and lead levels in the milk was found (Mandour, Ghanem and El-Azab 251-256). This effect from the environment of course has a negative affect on the health of not only the mothers who drink the water, but their infants who drink their mother’s milk (not to mention everybody else who is subject to drinking the lead contaminated water).

Figure 1. 1966 NYC Smog as seen from the Empire State Building


Library, CNN. “Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts – CNN.Com”. CNN. N.p., 2017. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.

Mandour, Raafat A., Abdel-Aziz Ghanem, and Somaia M. El-Azab. “Correlation Between Lead Levels In Drinking Water And Mothers’ Breast Milk: Dakahlia, Egypt”. Environmental Geochemistry and Health 35.2 (2012): 251-256. Web.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Cecelia McAuliffe makes this connection in Cairo, Egypt. This current event was reported in by Deutsche Welle (DW) online news on June 17th 2016, under the title “Sewage effluent fights desertification in Egypt” by Oliver Ristau. This is likely real news, based on inhabitat, an online news source, providing an independent report on this current event in August 2016, at here.

Throughout Africa, desertification is a major issue, but through planting forests, the spread of desert into fertile land can be stopped. However, where desertification commonly occurs, those areas often do not have readily available clean water to nurture the trees. With Egypt’s research program, The Serapium forest, this complication is avoided with the use of sewage effluent. The sewage effluent is held in a drainage basin outside Cairo, and is distributed to the plantations along the banks of the basin. The effluent water is treated in a two-stage process, where first, garbage and course dirt are removed, and second, oxygen and microbes are added to break down organic materials. At the end of the two-stage process, what is produced is a phosphate and nitrogen rich fluid. The article fails to go into detail on the treatment processes used and the quality of the effluent produced. The objectives of the two-stage process are common objectives held in wastewater treatment plants, however a third stage is often added to remove the phosphates and nitrates. A crew of 18 forestry workers and their manager, Ahmed Ragaie, monitor and maintain the network of irrigation pipes and the forest conditions.  Ragaie tells DW that each tree is given 5 liters of water twice a day and no fertilizer is added due to the nutrient rich effluent water. Regular soil tests show that the effluent has not contaminated the soil. This research opens an alternative use for sewage effluent that would benefit economic, environmental and societal issues.

Figure 1. Drainage basin for sewage effluent

Figure 2. Outside the plantation lies the desert

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are three key factors that are impacted by desertification and water usage. Nurturing plantations with treated effluent water could stimulate the economies of arid regions, like Egypt, creating more jobs and lowering the rate emigration. The Serapium plantation grows trees at a rate four times faster than plantations in Germany, therefore the wood can be harvested and sold as an export. The plantations are helping Egypt inhibit desertification, and produce natural resources.  Europe has also used sewage effluent to improve the productivity of forests and increase the fertility of soils. In Britain, the use of sewage sludge reclaimed ex-mineral and brownfield land for woodland establishment without deleterious environmental consequences (Taylor and Moffat, 1991). Hopefully, Egypt will expand its plantations to an estimated 650000 hectares of the desert if the country were to use 80% of its effluent. The success of the Serapium plantation has attracted investors for the forestation project, thus, Egypt can receive the funding it needs to expand the project.


Taylor C, Moffat A. The potential for utilizing sewage sludge in forestry in Great Britain. Alternative Uses for Sewage Sludge. 1991

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Juliet McArdle makes this connection in Lahore, Pakistan. This current event was reported in Outlook Pakistan, on October 4, 2015, under the title, Depleting water level threatens life in Lahore, by Outlook Pakistan. Reports from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) support this article through their efforts of a City-wide Partnership for Sustainable Water Use and Water Stewardship for Sustainable Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The population of Lahore is growing at an alarming rate, with an expected 22 million people by 2025. Most of these people are expected to live in urban areas, furthering the depletion of an already poor water supply. The current water resources are poorly managed as the rates of water consumption and pollution are taking a toll on the groundwater source, the Ravi River. Due to these issues, WWF along Coca Cola and other companies are partnering together to implement a project to install 15 water filtration plants throughout the city. An estimated 3 million people die in Lahore each year just from waterborne diseases. As industries keep pumping their waste into the water supply of Lahore the plan to have a partnership between industries and the city is much needed. Water resources engineering is important in the implementation of this agreement in order to come up with regulations for cleaner water and to treat the water that is already polluted. The article even gives suggestions for ending the water crisis in Lahore by having responsible consumption, recharging groundwater that has been used and harvesting rainwater.

Figure 1. Polluted water being used to irrigate farmland in Lahore, Pakistan.

The water crisis in Lahore brings up various economic, environmental and societal issues for the city. Small businesses rely on clean water in to run efficiently. Without this important resource people will have trouble making a living. The cost of clean-up of the already polluted waterways is also another economic issue that Lahore faces. Since water is such a needed asset of farming, it is quickly being depleted, lowering water tables. Aquifer recharge is not occurring as quickly as it should due to an increase in concrete cover as the city continues to develop. Since the water is so polluted many people, especially children, are becoming sick. Although the population continues to grow, it will put a greater stress on water resources as well as cause more pollution, leading to more waterborne diseases. Waterborne diseases are not properly tested for and new standards must be made in order to provide better water for those using it (Gleeson).The cause and effect of population growth and deterioration of water supply will only get worse if the City-wide Partnership for Sustainable Water Use and Water Stewardship for Sustainable Small and Medium Enterprises is not implemented to its full potential.


Gleeson C, Gray N. The Coliform Index and Waterborne Disease; Problems of Microbial Drinking Water Assessment [e-book]. London: CRC Press; 1997. Available from: eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost), Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 6, 2017.

Pakistan O. Depleting water level threatens life in Lahore. Outlook Pakistan. Published October 4, 2015. Accessed March 6, 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Billie Li makes this connection in Lagos, Nigeria. This current event was reported in Mercy Corps News on December 22, 2016, under the title, What You Need to know about the hunger crisis in the lake chad region, by Tom Saater. Another source is here.

The Lake Chad Water Basin is the main source of water to 30 million people from several different countries (Mercy Corps). This is an example of sub discipline sustainable resource management of water resources engineering. In order for this water basin to continue its role as a natural reservoir it must maintain a certain volume. This water is used for drinking water, hygienic water, and water for agriculture. It is important that we recognize The Lake Chad Region is just one example of humanitarian crisis that will happen in the near future if we do not improve our water resources engineering practices as we begin to face the effects of climate change causing scarcity of water. This article should include a break down of the current volume of the water basin, how much is consumed, and information about precipitation in the area.

Figure1. Remote sensing image of changing water volume of Lake Chad Water Basin via

“A combination of climate change, demographic pressures, human activity, and mismanagement of the remaining water resources has created what the UN describes as an ‘ecological catastrophe’.” – Ayo Obe, Environmental Degradation, Climate Change and Conflict: The Lake Chad Basin Area. It is a situation with the chicken and the egg in Nigeria; Boko Haram rose to power indirectly out of socio-political strife due to lack of clean water and food scarcity. “In the Lake Chad Basin, drought and massive displacement due to violence from Boko Haram are converging to create a severe humanitarian crisis. Boko Haram’s cycle of violence has uprooted and displaced 2.4 million people near the already fragile and drought-afflicted Lake Chad water basin, which includes portions of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.” (Mercy Corps) . With the influx of more people, and lack of water resources engineering implementation, people of this area are stretching already scarce resources beyond the breaking point. This situation directly affects the socio-economic livelihood of millions of people. The immense intake of the water in this basin not only lessens the access for human use, agriculture and hygienic use of water, but results in environmental degradation of the land surrounding the basin. It is being observed to hastily growing arid due to lack of precipitation. Water and Agriculture: Facing Water Scarcity and Environmental Challenges published by CIGR journal Discusses the possible solutions to issues that parallel with the case of Lake Chad Water Basin. In this journal they analyze consumption, areas of waste, and practices that could address these issues. There is not enough information provided in the articles I am reporting on to directly relate these solutions to, but a general direction and idea of what needs to be done can be drawn.

Figure2. Pathways to improve water uses by recognizing how water is used


Quick facts: What you need to know about the hunger crisis in the Lake Chad region. Mercy Corps. about-hunger-crisis-lake-chad-region. Published December 22, 2016. Accessed March 3, 2017.

Group C. Environmental Degradation, Climate Change and Conflict: The Lake Chad Basin Area: The Future of Conflict Medium. Published October 27, 2015. Accessed March 3, 2017.

S. Pereira. “Water and Agriculture: Facing Water Scarcity and Environmental Challenges”. Agricultural Engineering International: the CIGR Journal of Scientific Research and Development. Invited Overview Paper. Vol. VII. February 2005.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Alex Kirsch makes this connection in Kolkata, India. This current event was reported in by the Global Water Forum online news, on September 23, 2012, under the title “Water supply and sanitation in India: Meeting targets and beyond”, by Dr. Sridhar Vedachalam. This is likely real news, based on the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in August 2015 providing an independent report on this current event online.

The news regarding efforts to improve the supply of water throughout India, and to cities such as Kolkata, relates to water resources engineering, specifically in the areas of water demand and pipe networks. The key message in this article is the lowered standards for water to be considered “safe” in India, which have led to overestimates of the percentage of population with adequate water access. The daily demand for water in Kolkata significantly exceeds not only the capacity of the city’s wastewater treatment facilities, but also the overall supply. Investments have been made to improve these conditions, but efforts have been hindered by a high poverty rate and scarcity of freshwater resources. Waterborne diseases have plagued many regions of India, and a history of underinvestment have created challenges which are difficult to overcome. In my critique of this news story, I would praise the author for including specific information regarding the supply and treatment for various cities compared with the consumption levels (Figure 1), though I also found that the article fails to make specific references to the actions taken to truly mitigate the issues faced. It is unclear how supply is expected to be improved, whether by addition of water sources, construction of additional treatment facilities, or improved pipe networks, as water pumps currently used simply draw untreated water from the ground (Figure 2).

Figure 1 Status of water supply and wastewater treatment in the 6 largest cities of India

Figure 2 Water Pump, India

Economic, environmental and societal issues play a tremendous role in the efforts to improve water supply in Kolkata. Clearly, major environmental concerns exist, since contaminated, disease-carrying water has been the greatest issue. The article points out that while water consumption typically increases with socio-economic status, this has not been observed in cities in India, as consumption has rather been uniform, due to supply constraints. Additionally, from a societal standpoint, gender and caste have been found to play a role in access to water and sanitation. Women are more likely to be responsible for fetching water in Indian society, and members of lower castes have historically been responsible for the handling of waste. I found that the impact of safe water scarcity on poorer societal groups was also reported by Worley (2014). Weakened immune systems due to malnutrition as a result of poverty have caused individuals to be particularly susceptible to diseases, such as those carried by water. Worley (2014) reports that a multitude of water-related issues have contributed to illnesses and fatalities in India, such as the lack of toilets, poor water quality, and lack of food. The cause-effect relationship occurs when children do not receive sufficient nutrition, and as a result contract diseases which their immune systems are unable to ward off.


Vedachalam S, Water supply and sanitation in India: Meeting targets and beyond. Global Water Forum. Published September 23, 2012. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Wankhade K, Balakrishnan K, M.J. V. Urban Water Supply & Sanitation in India. Indian Institute for Human Settlements. Published August 2015. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Worley H. Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Malnutrition in India. Population Reference Bureau. Published September 2014. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Tyler Kuhn makes this connection in Beijing. This current event was reported in the South China Morning Post on July 15th, 2015, under the title “Beijing drinking water reservoir had lead levels ‘20 times WHO standard’ for at least three years,” by. Stephen Chen This is likely real news based on a study published in 2015 in the peer reviewed Journal of Environmental Informatics, available online.

This news about water quality relates to water resources engineering because the clean-up of the problem and future prevention will be engineered solutions. The article addresses how the WHO discovered lead levels in the Danjiangkou reservoir, Beijing’s main water supply, to be twenty times higher than their safety standards. The article also addresses the negative health effects that the lead might pose to the local population, along with stating other pollutants that have levels higher than standard safety levels. The article was missing information on whether or not the Beijing or Chinese government had plans to, or already had, reduce the level of pollutants in the reservoir.

Figure 1 Aerial view of Danjiangkou Dam and reservoir

Economic, environmental, and societal issues all contribute to what causes pollution and what drives the solutions to the problem of cleaning water supplies. Water quality relates to economic issues because problems caused by heavy metals in drinking water can cost people thousands of dollars when they need to see a doctor for water related sickness. The pollution of the water supply also causes the municipalities to have to spend money to clean up the drinking water supply and put in extra checks to make sure the levels stay below safety standards. Poor water quality also impacts the local environment. If water with lead, arsenic, or other pollutants seeps into the ground it can be absorbed by the local plants or even find its way to other bodies of water, carrying the pollutants with it. If wildlife drinks this water or eats the plants that a=have absorbed polluted water, the pollutants can build up in animals by way of biomagnification until the entire ecosystem is affected by the pollutants. If these pollutants are concentrated enough, they can cause the local ecosystem to suffer severely until something is done to reduce the level of pollution. On the social side of things, poor water quality can impact human health just as it impacts the environment. The high lead concentration in drinking water can cause developmental issues for young children such as deficits in attention span and decreasing their learning ability. For adults, increased lead can result in kidney problems along with higher blood pressure. If the levels of lead are high enough though, the lead poisoning could result in kidney failure or even death. Here the adverse health effects of lead are described by CDC scientists Mary Brown, and Stephen Margolis. The problem of lead pollution is usually caused by human activities such as increased driving and inappropriate dispensing of building materials which often causes the lead and other chemicals to make their way into water supplies that humans drink from. This causes the health problems and environmental issues that need to be solved.

Figure 2 Maximum safe levels of lead in drinking water supply defined by different organizations


Brown, M. J., & Margolis, S. (2012). Lead in Drinking Water and Human Blood Lead Levels in the United States. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

Chen, S. (2015, July 15). Beijing drinking water reservoir had lead levels ’20 times WHO standard’ for at least three years. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

Subhuja. (2011, May 23). Danjiangkou reservoir travels Shiyan of China. Retrieved February 24, 2017, from

Tan, X., Li, S., Xia, X., & Zhang, Q. (2015). Water Quality Characteristics and Integrated Assessment Based on Multistep Correlation Analysis in the Danjiangkou Reservoir, China. Journal of Environmental Informatics,25(1), 60-70. doi:10.3808/jei.201500296

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our Student, Emily Keene, makes this connection in Karachi, Pakistan. This current event was reported in The New York Times on February 12, 2015, under the title, “Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis,” by Salman Masood. The water scarcity in Pakistan is documented by former chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority, Shamsul Mulk, in a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report.

Due to climate change and increasing populations, Water Resource Engineers face the issue of providing the public with the proper quality and quantity of water. The federal water and power ministry outlined policy in January of 2015 to promote water conservation in Pakistan. The state minister for water and power, Abid Sher Ali, states, “Ensuring sustainable availability and conservation of fresh water resources to meet surging domestic, industrial, agricultural, energy and environmental needs, adapting water sector to climate change, waste water recycling, flood water management and rainwater harvesting are among key objects of the policy.” Because the country’s agricultural industry uses approximately 96% of its freshwater resources annually, water resource engineers need to implement sustainable water use practices within the farming industry. This news is vital to water resource engineers because, even in the United States, there are water scarcity issues that could greatly impact our society as well. Because the United States also uses a large percentage of the freshwater resources available in the country, sustainable practices within the farming industry would alleviate the issue. Observing the issue in Karachi, Pakistan should be a warning to other countries that, without sustainable water use practices with climate change and growing populations, water scarcity could be a reality that they face. An important detail that could be included in the article would be a figure of how the increasing population and climate change have affected the water supply in Pakistan. The article explains that Pakistan has 1,000 m3 per person per year available, and is a fivefold drop since their independence in 1947. However, analyzing a figure that can illustrate the exigency of the water scarcity may increase the reader’s alarm and put into perspective the seriousness of the issue.

Figure 1: Afghan refugees pumped water by hand in a slum of Islamabad, Pakistan. An official warned that Pakistan could become “a water-starved country.”

Figure 1: Afghan refugees pumped water by hand in a slum of Islamabad, Pakistan. An official warned that Pakistan could become “a water-starved country.”

Figure 2: A girl collecting water for her family at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Figure 2: A girl collecting water for her family at a slum on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are important to Karachi, Pakistan. These issues are interconnected, and without a stable economy, environment, or society, Pakistan could be a dangerous place for its residents. For example, in north Pakistan, hydroelectric power is the keystone of the electricity source. Consequently, water shortages cause ten hours of power shortages a day in Karachi. In some places of Pakistan, there is as little as four hours of electricity a day. Due to the electricity crisis, the government is strained. It is apparent that due to these strains on the government, the people are losing faith in their government, especially the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Adding the country’s resource challenge regarding water supply also reduces the crop yield; thus, adding to the economic and societal issues. In addition, the water shortages that reduce the amount of power the residents have, the people are resorting to fossil fuels that can pollute the air and the little water they have. It is evident that the water shortages have a great impact on the community of Pakistan if a farmer’s legal challenge results in a judge in Lahore telling the government to begin implementing its climate change plans since there has been, “no progress on the ground.”


Masood S. Starved for Energy, Pakistan Braces for a Water Crisis. The New York Times.®ion=FixedLeft&pgtype=article. Published February 12, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Mehra M. Pakistan ordered to enforce climate law by Lahore court. Climate Home. Published September 20, 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Shaikh S. Pakistan unveils plan to tackle looming water crisis. Climate Home. Published March 23, 2016. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Shams Ul Mulk Special Review Committee Report on Islamabad International Airport Project. Shams Ul Mulk Special Review Committee Report on Islamabad International Airport Project. November 2015. Accessed February 22, 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Megan Herbst makes this connection in Jakarta, Indonesia. This current event was reported in The Guardian, on November 22, 2016, under the title “$40bn to save Jakarta: the story of the Great Garuda”. This news story is likely reliable because a similar story was also reported by Deutsche Welle, a German international broadcasting company, and another was Abitare.
Major issues for many countries, and large cities is potable drinking water. In Jakarta, a constantly growing city, the demand for water is becoming heightened. Since enough potable water is not being piped in, residents rely on well water from shallow aquifers. Typically, this is an acceptable practice, but in these circumstances the magnitude of water being withdrawn is leaving too much space underground, and so the land above it starts sinking. Along with a greater amount of water being pulled from the ground, new apartment buildings and shopping areas are creating a greater force of weight pushing down on the compacting ground. Now, some areas have sunk below sea level; this causes isues when there are times of high tide or heavy rain because gravity no longer does its job pulling water back out to sea. Instead, these areas below sea level have continuous flooding issues. The city and surrounding areas are sinking at a rate of 5-10 cm per year, causing more than 300,000 to evacuate their homes and leaving nearly 50 people dead after the floods in 2007 (Sherwell). To solve this ongoing issue, the Dutch government has offered aid to assist in a project called the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD) program. This project proposes to build a sea wall in the shape of a garuda – a Hindu origin mythical bird, that is the national symbol of Indonesia – to help protect the city from catastrophic floods. This topic is related to water resources engineering because the lack of potable drinking water is causing failures elsewhere in the community and infrastructure. People are dying, being forced away from their homes, and have a lower quality of life due to this lack of water resources engineering. Something needs to be done, and needs to be done quickly, to save this megacity from disaster. This article was extremely thorough; however I would have like to see more information on how this proposed wall could affect the wildlife and marine mammals in the area. When new infrastructure and engineering tools, especially that in water, are being planned it is crucial to take into consideration the ecological impacts that this decision could make.
Firgure 1. Diagram of proposed Garuda sea wall and surrounding city of Jakarta, Indonesia (Sherwell)

Firgure 1. Diagram of proposed Garuda sea wall and surrounding city of Jakarta, Indonesia (Sherwell)

Within water resources engineering three factors that must be taken into account in the decision-making process are economic, environmental and societal issues. This engineering opportunity in Jakarta poses a huge societal and social controversy. If the garuda wall is built and the surrounding islands become more industrialized, thousands of traditional fishing villages and waterfront communities will be evicted and destroyed. Many residents are left without a home, or are forced to move miles away from their homes and where they grew up and work. These Jakartans are not only losing their homes, but are losing their livelihoods as well as each fishing village is destroyed. Economically, the Dutch government has offered in aid to make this plan more probable, but some residents are skeptical about this funding and are worried about the Dutch’s motives. Environmentally the Jakarta Bay is already polluted. There is a fear that building this giant sea wall could only increase pollution and sedimentation trapped in the many rivers and canals running throughout the city, as well as the Bay. Some Jakarta natives argue that if restoration was the priority here a new economy based on tourism, aquaculture and fisheries could form from a clean bay. Jakarta, Indonesia isn’t the only city experiencing sinking and related issues; Venice, Italy is suffering a similar problem with sinking and failing infrastructure (Geoscience: Venice: sliding down, tilting east). Water resources engineering could either make or break the city of Jakarta. If nothing is done to prevent the current situation from escalating further, Northern Jakarta will longer exist. However, if the giant garuda sea wall is built then that could cause further damage to the pollution in the waterways of the city. Right now, everyone understands that something needs to be done, it is just an argument of what that something is going to be.
Figure 2. Northern Jakarta neighborhood destroyed by flood and pollution that came with it (Sherwell)

Figure 2. Northern Jakarta neighborhood destroyed by flood and pollution that came with it (Sherwell)


Geoscience: Venice: sliding down, tilting east. (2012). Nature, 483(7391), 512. doi:10.1038/483512a

Sherwell, P. (2016, November 22). $40bn to save Jakarta: the story of the Great Garuda. Retrieved February 20, 2017, from

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Veronica Held makes this connection in Mexico City, Mexico. This current event was reported in The New York Times on February 17, 2017 under the title “Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis” by Michael Kimmelman. This is likely real news based on The Guardian, a British national daily newspaper, providing an independent report on this current event validating the potable drinking water issues in Mexico.

Higher-income neighborhoods are fortunate enough to get cheap, government-subsidized tap water. Meanwhile, the poorest parts of the population have no plumbing and receive no water at all in their homes. Those who live beyond the reach of the city’s water pipes must buy water from trucks (called pipas) that distribute water out of a large hose at an even higher cost (Hollander, 2014). Access to potable water should be a fundamental human right yet increasingly barriers exist denying people access to a safe and secure drinking water supply. The current conditions in Mexico City directly related to water resources engineering because it exposes the infrastructural problems correlating to water scarcity. Relating to climate change, extreme weather and water scarcity are accelerating repression, regional conflicts, and violence (Kimmelman, 2017). From water, health, air pollution, traffic disruption from floods, housing vulnerability to landslides, the effect of climate change on an already unstable city will only heighten the existing tension. It is necessary to address these water related issues, which the article did not necessarily offer a resolve for. Inequity results in the city being unable to supply every resident with clean drinking water and Tanya Müller García, Mexico City’s secretary for the environment refuses to acknowledge this. The article mentions that there are some progressive plans underway that would increase accessibility to water.  However, the disconnect between local and federal officials undermines the possibility of serious improvement.

Figure 1. The sinking effect of urban sprawl experienced in Mexico City.

Figure 1. The sinking effect of urban sprawl experienced in Mexico City.

Mexico City’s economic, environmental, and societal issues are all causes and effects of the water crisis the city is experiencing. In terms of the economy, lower income families are especially impacted with an increase in water demand resulting in an increase in the cost of water. The lack of proper funding for WRE issues will continue to be a detriment to the growing population in need of water. Environmental issues were founded initially after the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs and began developing the land. Societal impacts are evident in the health and quality of life for lower-class citizens. Back then, the conquering Spaniards waged war against water, determined to subdue it. The Aztec system was foreign to them and they replaced the dikes and canals with streets and squares. They drained the lakes and cleared forestland, suffering flood after flood as consequence.  The Grand Canal, that was once supposed to solve the city’s flooding and sewage problems, today is working at only 30 percent of capacity because of subsidence. Developing land is an issue for the previously advantageous volcanic soil of the city (Figure 1). Buried beneath concrete and asphalt, rain is stopped from filtering down to the aquifers, causing floods and creating “heat islands” that raise temperatures and increase the demand for water. The warming climate will only increase the city’s problems with pollution, specifically ozone (Kimmelman, 2017). Heat waves mean health crises and increased health care costs for poor neighborhoods where air-conditioning isn’t commonplace. The health effects of contaminated water are clear to residents whose infants regularly break out in rashes and whose grandparents suffer colitis. Angry residents wait in lines overnight to plead with pipa drivers, who sometimes pit desperate families against one another, seeing who pays the bigger bribe. Poorer families must spend more than 10 percent of their income on water, enough to yield an insufficient 10 gallons per person per day. It becomes impossible for many poor women to work outside the home. Water becomes the center of women’s lives, waiting for hours to get water that doesn’t last a week. Ms. Josefina Ramírez Granillo states, “Sometimes there is violence. Women sell their spaces in the line. If you’re from the wrong political party, you don’t get water. You have to show your party affiliation, your voting ID (Kimmelman, 2017).” In an article titled “Discussion on Sustainable Water Technologies for Peri-Urban Areas of Mexico City: Balancing Urbanization and Environmental Conservation,” the discussion continues by proposing resource-oriented management of water, nutrients and energy that would require a sustainable system aimed at low resource use and high recovery and reuse rates. The cause-effect of Mexico City’s fleeting source of water due to aquifer depletion and urban sprawl is going to continue to affect their population until they find an alternative source/method to obtain their water.


Hollander K. Mexico City: water torture on a grand and ludicrous scale. The Guardian. Published February 5, 2014.

Kimmelman M. Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis. The New York Times. Published February 17, 2017.

Nanninga TA, Bisschops I, López E, et al. Discussion on Sustainable Water Technologies for Peri-Urban Areas of Mexico City: Balancing Urbanization and Environmental Conservation. Water. Published September 24, 2012; 4:739-758. doi:10.3390/w4030739 .