Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Rachel Rubach make this connection in Nagoya, Japan. This current event was reported in The Japan Times, on September 9th, 2015, under the title, Typhoon Etau Pummels Japan with Gales, Heavy rain; Evacuations Ordered, by Kyodo. This is likely a real news story since Typhoon Etau was recorded by The Weather Channel, who also provides an article on the subject.

Typhoon Etau reached its peak strength and hit Japan September 9th, 2015. The max rainfall of 26.30 inches was located in Tochigi, while Nagoya received 5.79 inches. While this wasn’t the maximum amount that fell on Japan, this much rainfall can still cause flooding and destruction. This news relates to water resources engineering because water-quality models are used in events of large stormwater surges, and pollutant loads contained in stormwater can be estimated. This is important news for water resources engineering because large urban areas, like Nagoya, are especially under concern with respect to their impact on water quality. Large urban areas, being highly populated, produce a higher concentration of pollutants per area. Due to this and because of the urban landscape, natural buffering like trees and greenery are lacking which can greatly affect the presence of stormwater and floods. This report could have given more information about how this stormwater can transfer contaminants and harmful pollutants, and if the people should be looking out for anything that could be harmful.

Figure 1. A flooded road in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, is closed Wednesday morning, as Typhoon Etau landed in Neighboring Aichi Prefecture.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are very important when natural disasters occur. Water-quality models help with these issues by understanding how much and what kind of contaminants can be in the storm and flood waters, and how they can be dealt with. The stormwater produced from the typhoon can contain toxic heavy metals, lead, zinc, and pathogens. These substances can cause economic issues because anyone could get sick from the water and could have expensive medical bills. Environmental issues are also pertinent in natural disasters. This storm caused large amounts of rain to fall accompanied with high winds. These two factors can cause trees to fall or be damaged and possibly die. Trees are essential in water interception and can abstract as much as 48% of rainfall. So, when the number of trees start to decrease, especially in an urban area where there are so few, the rainwater from a heavy storm will greatly affect the amount of storm water. The affect a high wind storm has on trees is shown in the article, “Forest Damage and Recovery from Catastrophic Wind.” This event is a cause-effect relationship and effects society as well because natural disasters can leave a city or town out of commission for a long while by destroying many homes and businesses leaving many people unaware of what to do next.

References:

Everham EM, Brokaw NVL. Forest damage and recovery from catastrophic wind. The Botanical Review. 1996;62(2):113-185. doi:10.1007/bf02857920.

Kyodo, J. (n.d.). Typhoon Etau pummels Japan with gales, heavy rain; evacuations ordered. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/09/national/typhoon-set-hit-shizuoka-area-triggering-flood-mudslide-downpour-warnings/#. Retrieved March 22, 2017.

Wiltgen N. Japan Floods, Landslides: 8 Dead, 46 Injured; Missing Persons All Accounted For. The Weather Channel. https://weather.com/storms/typhoon/news/tropical-storm-etau-japan-flooding-landslides. Retrieved March 22, 2017.

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