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 Typically, this is an acceptable practice, but in these circumstances the magnitude of water being withdrawn is leaving too much space underground, and so the land above it starts sinking.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)

References

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 https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/nov/22/jakarta-great-garuda-seawall-sinking

Advertisements