Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Yanuck makes this connection in Tianjin. This current event was reported in The Straits Times, on January 7, 2017, under the title, “Eco-land living up to its mission”, translated by Lim Ruey Yan. This is likely accurate and not fake news as a separate article, “Financing Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City: What Lessons Can Be Drawn for Other Large-Scale Sustainable City-Projects?” by Changjie Zhan and Martin de Jong, analyzes the impact of the large eco-city. The eco-city can be viewed below in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Site of Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City

News about eco-cities designed for better sewage treatment, rainwater collection, water recycling, and desalination relates to WRE in the specific disciplines of water-resources planning, design of hydraulic structures, surface-water hydrology and others. It is essential that rainwater collection systems to be designed correctly in order for them to work safely and efficiently. It is also important to plan designs with future use in mind, knowing how many residents the sewage treatment system will serve once the city is full, for example.  The article did not describe how well the implemented systems work and if they are still successful. It also did not describe the method of desalination or how the rainwater was collected besides collection wells on the sides of roads.

These elements, rainwater collection and sewage treatment for instance, relate to Tianjin’s economic, environmental, and societal issues, and these are important aspects of a healthy, functioning city. Rainwater treatment relates to the economic issues of keeping roads and buildings safe during regular and heavy rainfall so that damage does not occur. Sewage treatment relates to economic issues because untreated sewage could contaminate drinking water, leading to health issues and costly reparations. Both of these topics relate to environmental issues, as untreated sewage could harm fish in this port city and rainwater flooding could lead to runoff of the road surfaces, adding chemicals and man-made objects to the natural environment. Sewage treatment relates to social issues as human health is positively affected when sewage is treated properly as less chemicals have to be used to create potable drinking water. Appropriate rainwater collection also protects human health by preventing hydroplaning on roads. Singh et al (2004) studied the application of untreated wastewater and concurred that it lead to elevated levels of heavy metals, showing the importance of proper treatment to avoid human health and issues caused by exposure to toxic elements in wastewater.


MD, Zhan C. Financing Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City: What Lessons Can Be Drawn for Other Large-Scale Sustainable City-Projects? Sustainability. 2017.

Singh KP, Mohan D, Sinha S, Dalwani R. Impact assessment of treated/untreated wastewater toxicants discharged by sewage treatment plants on health, agricultural, and environmental quality in the wastewater disposal area. Chemosphere. 2004;55(2):227-255. doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2003.10.050.

Yan, Lim Ruey (translator). Eco-land living up to its mission. The Straits Times. Published January 6, 2017. Accessed April 28, 2017.