Archive for February, 2018

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our student Remington Doty makes this connection in Kolkata, India.  This current event was reported in, Understanding Asia’s Water Crisis, on November 11, 2015 under the title “Kolkata, a water-rich city turning water-poor,” written by Jayanta Basu.  This article features commentary from chief officers within the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and even experts and officials within the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.  The statistics and facts within this article are also from the annual Kolkata Municipal Corporation Ground Water Information Booklet (Islam and Basu, 2008).

Kolkata, India was once known as a very water-rich city.  The Ganga River flows beside the western end of the city and to the east lies a huge groundwater reserve and wide wetlands which helps to naturally treat waste water.  Now the city that is comprised of over 4.5 million people is running into water shortage problems due to pollution and societal issues.  Just about 15% of the water that serves these people is from groundwater source, the rest comes from surface water.  The rich and middle class people in the city are the ones who receive water from the ground and many times are forced to pump the water that they need into their own houses because they do not trust the surface water sources of water and because of this the amount of ground water supply has significantly decreased in the past years.  Along with the dwindling supply of water there is also a huge amount of water that is contaminated with arsenic and salinity incursion.  According to a study done by Jadavpur University, about 55% of the city’s groundwater has “high levels” of arsenic (Roy and Paul, 2008).  A lack of environmental regulations has also lead to Industrial pollutants and leaking sewage pipes that provide even more contamination to the water.  These problems directly relate to water resources engineering mainly in the fields of wastewater treatment and ground water supply management.  An effort was made by the state pollution control board to ensure that industries treat effluent before letting it go back into the sewer lines, but these efforts failed.  These problems are so important to WRE because if they are not solved or if something isn’t done to counteract the pollution and poor water treatment problems then it is said by the year 2020 India will be facing an all out water shortage crisis (Basu, 2015).  This article is very informational but it fails to go in depth as to what methods Kolkata has in place to treat the water that is infected by arsenic and other sewage poisons.  It outlines the problems that the city is facing but fails to go into any solutions that may be implemented in the future years to help the water situations. It does seem as if there aren’t any implementations being made by the government or any municipalities.

Figure 1. A boy bathing in one of the many stand post water pipes in Kolkata India (Basu, 2015)

Nearly 35% of Kolkata’s population lives in the slums with limited access to public sources of water (water hydrants and hand tube wells), they usually only receive drinking water through a few water hydrants.  The government has a current policy of not charging people for water which creates a serious set of new economic and social problems.  The economic and social aspects can be grouped together since they are directly related to each other.  Supplying drinking water to people has now become a huge industry in Kolkata, especially in places with contaminated and unsafe groundwater.  There are both private and public companies that take part in this business and we have one example in Southern Kolkata where a private company set up a small water treatment plant and they sell the water at around 2 rupees per liter.  Rates can double in more public areas even though they are selling the same exact water, though no body really knows how much actual “treatment” is put into the water by these companies (Basu 2015).  In 2011, the governing Congress party abolished the collection of water tax officially which in turn crippled any revenue that municipalities made, and boosted activities of private water companies (Basu, 2015).  Often these private water companies are very illegal but the people will pay extra money for water that they believe to be is clean and free of any harmful substances.  It is also a very common practice of illegal water selling to puncture Kolkata municipality lines and steal the water and sell it at a high rate.  The Kolkata Municipal Corporation also admitted in an interview conducted by our article’s author that only about 35% of the supply of drinking water actually reaches the 245,000 households it is supposed to supply and nothing is being done to try and stop these illegal private water companies, also known as the water mafia.  Relating all of these issues together we can come to the conclusion that the environmental issues, like the industrial pollution and lack of care about the problems, have forced the public’s hand to buy into these illegal private companies (social and economic issues) which in turn takes away from the economy and fuels these private industries to do more harm.  Another scholarly journal written on the management of water around the Kolkata area focuses on the same issues but gives a bit more insight into some modern solutions and provides an emphasis on rainwater harvesting (Benerji and Mitri, 2017).  As the breaking point of 2020 becomes closer and closer it is very important for the government and the public to push for WRE solutions so that when 2020 comes around, there isn’t a big panic when the water-rich Kolkata suddenly becomes water-poor (Basu, 2015).  The work that could be done in WRE would potentially save Kolkata from a massive crisis in years to come.


Islam, S. and Basu, N. (2008). Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

Roy, R. and Paul, A. (2008). Kolkata is at risk of arsenic poisoning. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].

Banerji, S. and Mitra, D. (2017). Evaluation of water resource management in Salt Lake City, West Bengal, India. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 62(12), pp.1980-1994 [Accessed 19 Feb. 2018].


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Erin Cuddihy makes this connection in Lagos, Nigeria. This current event was reported by the World Post online news, on March 19th, 2017, under the title “Nigeria’s Water Bill Could Criminalize Drinking Water For Millions,” by Dominique Mosbergen.  This is likely real news based on various sources (ex. CNN, Newsy, The Premium Times) writing about the updates on the Lagos water crisis spanning from 2012- to current. One such site can be found at here.

The news about water scarcity relates to water resources engineering (WRE) in the specific areas of ground water management, per-capita demand, and water treatment and distribution processes. Lagos is surrounded by water because it is a coastal city of Nigeria, however ironically a small percent is actually usable. The majority of the public doesn’t have access to clean drinking water which leads to people fending for themselves. The improper drilling of Boreholes has become very popular, however these holes are an environmental disaster and causes many water contamination and health problems (Heller 2016). These improperly drilled holes are depleting the groundwater supply. With 21 million people in a closely knitted area and 19 million without easy access to water, competition for the little available water is tight (Figure 2). People are forced to buy water at steep prices in unsanitary Jerry cans (Figure 1) just to survive. The wealthy top 2 million people who have the privilege to use the water piping system are also getting slowly backed into a corner, because the water piping is decades old, with taps that are running dry. Also, the production rates on the pipe are well under capacity causing even more problems (Mosbergen 2017).  As the supply of clean water in Lagos is decreasing the population is still increasing at a disconcerting rate. This article states that this challenge for water will become even greater as the government has passed a new law banning the use of boreholes without a permit. Lagos is also starting to lean toward the privatization of water which will be disastrous for the low-middle class citizens living in poverty. In my critique of this news story, I think this article has missed important information on what the real problem with the groundwater is. I would like to read about why this water crisis occurred in the first place. Was it the rapidly growing population or poor water techniques? I would like to know the root causation behind this major, ever continuing problem in Lagos.

Figure 1. People fill up canisters with water to sell at extremely high prices of the streets

Figure 2. 19 million of the 21 million people in Lagos don’t have access to drinking water. Only the lucky and rich people have access to this water

Considering the economic, environmental and societal issues is crucial for defining the sustainability and assessing this current event in Lagos Nigeria. Not only is this a crisis affecting 21 million people in their daily lives, but it is also an issue that affects groundwater systems, the future of the land and the government and economy of Nigeria. Lagos has a poverty rate of 62% (Hughs 2015) with a distinct difference between the lower to middle class and the upper class. Water plays a huge part in the economy, with the daily purchase of Jerry cans that are priced based on availability and neediness. It can cost 50 dollars or more a month for drinking water when the average person only makes around 230-300 dollars a month. This is spending 21.7% of income just on water, and water prices are only increasing. Putting this into perspective, in Syracuse NY, the average middle class person spends around one percent of their income on water. Only 10 percent of people can actually pay to get water from the pipes and even this water is running out. On the environmental side, the combination of poverty and a crisis is always a problem. This is because when facing a chance at death, the importance in the minds of people is mere survival and not the thought that what they’re doing isn’t sustainable or good for the environment. This is where people drill bore holes and secrete waste in the streets. Unfortunately, this lack of consideration for the environment only makes their water problem worse. With open excrement, and other contaminants openly on the ground, the little ground water that is left is being contaminated even more causing people to get sick. As one can imagine the societal issues of the crisis have changed the dynamic of the city. The government got involved making laws against the public drilling for water and hinting at the privatization of water. This leaves people in poverty with no chance to receive clean water. The law causing a major fight back from the people, one citizen even went as far as to say “I would rather die”, this meaning that they would rather die than have their water in the hands of private companies. It is reasonable given the fact that many of these large companies are corrupt and use cheap unhealthy alternative chemicals when treating water (Ezeamalu 2017). However, one law that was passed is very beneficial and can make progress against the crisis. The governor Akinwunmi Ambode passed a law giving Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) the authority to review and regulate all waste management activities. This is helpful because 1 in 4 people practice open defecation causing contaminated water and water borne illnesses (Mosbergen 2017). Based on this article, Lagos officials could affect the entire African continent if they privatize their water system. Mosbergen states that “Quality will go down, sanitation will be impacted and the poorest of the poor will not be able to get adequate water.” I found that this issue of companies taking over the water systems was also reported by Ezeamalu in December 2017. He describes that there are three big companies that are looking to take over the water system to add to their empire of corruption. Ezeamalu describes that these companies have issues in multiple other countries adding to problems with water quality. This is definitely not what the people of Lagos need right now. The cause-effect between the water scarcity and the impact to society occurs when clean water becomes so rare that only the rich can buy water and people start to become sick and die. This problem is only getting worse with time, the government needs to make a beneficial move or the crisis will only continue and get worse.


Ezeamalu, B. Multinationals cannot be trusted with Lagos water, group warns, in Premium Times. December 2017.

Heller, L. Nigeria’s megacity, Lagos, faces ‘unacceptable’ water and sanitation crisis, UN expert Warns, in UN News. December 2016.

Hughs, C. Poverty in Lagos, Nigera, in The Borgen Project. April 2015.

Mosbergen, D. Nigeria’s Water Bill Could Criminalize Drinking Water for Millions, in Huffington Post. March 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Garrett Crysler makes this connection in Mexico City, Mexico.  This current event was reported in the NY Times on February 2, 2017 under the title, “Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crisis”, by Michael Kimmelman. This current event is likely real news, based on an independent report done by Stanford University at here.

The news about the water distribution system used within the city relates to water resources engineering, in the specific areas of groundwater management and urban water distribution. This news is important for water resources engineering since the current crisis in Mexico City could have been prevented if the proper management techniques were implemented. The soil beneath the city is volcanic in nature and so it easily absorbs water and allows it to flow down into the aquifer below. The impermeable surfaces throughout the city prevent this process from occurring so the water from rain causes flooding instead of filtering down into the aquifer. A layer of clay also exists below the city between the volcanic soil and the aquifer causing uneven settling throughout the city since the clay collapses and cracks (Figure 1). The sinking of Mexico City caused by the lack of water being added to the aquifer by rain and the pumping of the water out also creates additional head that the pump has to overcome. Since a pumping station in Ecatepac had been built in 2007 the area has sunk six feet making it more difficult to get water to the city.

Figure 1. The buildings in Mexico City are starting to show the effects of the sinking of the city due to the low water in the aquifer

Figure 2. The Grand Canal that is supposed to provide water to Mexico City only running at around 30% due to drought

Economic, environmental and societal issues are important to the water crisis in Mexico City and can be connected to the overall issue. Another article that relates the impending water crisis to the societal status of Mexico City’s citizens . The amount of impermeable surface within the city has caused an increase in the number of heat waves. This causes an increase in the number of heat related medical emergencies particularly in low-income neighborhoods, which in turn leads to rising costs of healthcare. The effect of climate change on the city has an effect on the amount of available water as the reservoir of groundwater runs too low during times of drought while times of heavy rain cause intense flooding throughout the city (Figure 2). The search for new sources of water for the city has also led to deforestation of the lands surrounding the city. The indigenous people that live outside the city have witnessed these effects first hand; “We used to live surrounded by nature, now we are surrounded by pylons and barbed wire” (Watts, 2015). This rapid increase in infrastructure has left the indigenous people with their lands barren and without an adequate source of water. This has led to an increase in activist movements looking only to make sure they are allowed to use some of the water that is being pumped from their land into the city.


Watts, J. Mexico City’s Water Crisis-from Source to Sewer. Mexico City live. November 12, 2015; pp. 1-12

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Out student Trevor Cornish makes this connection in London, United Kingdom. The current event was reported in BBC World News on February 11, 2018, under the title “The 11 Cities Most Likely to Run Out of Drinking Water – like Cape Town.” The WRE current event is likely accurate and not fake news because Thames Water, the water supplier in London, reports on their website that in developing the next Water Resources Management Plan (WRMP), they are forecasting a water resource deficit in the service territory of London of 400 million liters per day, the volume of water required by two million people. Figure 1 shows the estimated population growth in London by Thames Water. Figure 2 shows a predicted increase in water demand, by water resource zone.

Figure 1: Population forecast in London by Thames Water

Figure 2: Predicted increase in water demand by water resource zone (WRZ) by Thames Water

The current event in London relates to WRE. One WRE sub-discipline this news relates to is water demand forecasting, which is part of design of water-distribution systems. To predict supply problems or shortages, engineers at Thames Water must understand how much water will be used, the demand, based on population and fire flow. This news also mentions that the annual average rainfall of London is only 600 mm, which relates to fundamentals of surface-water hydrology as design of drinking water systems may be based on rainfall. London’s listing as a city that may run out of drinking water is important news for WRE because access to water and sanitation is recognized as a human right by the UN, so water resource engineers in London and the rest of the wrold must work to prevent a water shortage by analyzing available water resources, water loss, and water demand. The reported current event could be improved if more information regarding how the supply problems are predicted was presented. For example, after reading the article, I wondered if the predicted supply problems are mostly caused by population growth, failure of the current water distribution infrastructure, climate change, or a combination of many factors.

Economic, environmental, and societal issue are important in the area of this current event because they shape plans on how to avoid a water shortage in London. The WRE event relates to economic issues because the minimization of cost is always an objective in engineering projects. Thames Water is looking to reduce lost/stolen water by reducing leakage and deploying detectives to stop water theft, which will save money and increase revenue, respectively. Water supply issues in London relate to environmental issues because in some way, water demand must be met. This may mean withdrawing more water from the Thames River in which issues around ecological engineering must be considered. The WRE event relates to societal issues because productivity of society would be hindered if access to clean, safe water was inconvenient, unreliable, or very costly. In the refereed journal article Sensitivity of future U.S. Water shortages to socioeconomic and climate drivers: a case study in Georgia using an integrated human-earth system modeling framework, Scott et. Al discuss the important human-climate relationship surrounding water demand. They make clear that there is a connection between socioeconomic change, climate change, and water demand and supply, respectively. The fact that this aspect of WRE is discussed in a scientific journal gives credibility to the news article about London’s predicted water shortage. The cause-effect relationship between the WRE event and the context area issue is similar in London and many other megacities. The causes are multi-faceted, and include population growth, and crumbling infrastructure that results in more leakage, and climate change that results in fewer water resources available. The effect, as seen in London and other cities, is that water shortages, or even crises, are predicted or experienced.


Human Rights. UN-Water. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Pidgen K. Thames Water consults on water resources management plan. Utility Week. Published December 2, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Plimmer G. Subscribe to the FT to read: Financial Times Thames Water deploys detectives to stop water theft. Financial Times. Published January 24, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Scott M, Daly D, Voisin N, et al. Sensitivity of future U.S. Water shortages to socioeconomic and climate drivers: a case study in Georgia using an integrated human-earth system modeling framework. Climatic Change [serial online]. May 15, 2016;136(2):233-246. Available from: Energy & Power Source, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 14, 2018.

The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town. BBC News. Published February 11, 2018. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Water Resources Management Plan – 2019. Thames Water; 2016.—WRMP19. Accessed February 14, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connect to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Marissa Clay makes this connection in Nagoya, Japan. This current even was reported in Reuters on October 21, 2017, under the title “Typhoon kills at least two in Japan, prompts call for thousands to evacuate” by Elaine Lies and Makiko Yamazaki1. The destruction caused by Typhoon Lan has also been documented by reliable sources such as The Weather Network2 and The Straits Times3.

Nagoya, Japan is a prefecture of the region of Aichi, Japan. As it is located on the Pacific Coast, it is considered one of Japan’s foremost ports. However, Japan faces a yearly typhoon season, from May to October, and this often affects the metropolitan city of Nagoya (Figure 1). In 2017, Nagoya faced Typhoon Lan, and encountered flooding and extreme rains. Typhoon Lan creates a connected to water resources through the aspects of stormwater management and flood protection. These two facets of WRE are extremely critical to consider when a weather phenomenon such as a typhoon occurs. In this city, the use of green infrastructure (GI) has been implemented to deal with these events. The GI systems utilizes stormwater by recycling the water, increasing filtration, and reducing runoff in the drainage systems. The GI also helps improve flood protection and prevention by routing the water into GI networks in order to reuse the water elsewhere4. This is a very notable solution to Japan’s typhoon season and is a relevant example of how a city may execute a WRE plan. This article explained the aftermath of Typhoon Lan, however it didn’t mention what each city was going to do in order to ameliorate the devastated lands.

Figure 1. A car drives through the floodwaters of Typhoon Lan in Nagoya, Japan6

Economic, environmental and societal issues often arise when a natural disaster affects an area. With the use of GI, however, Nagoya has been able to improve their efforts to restore the city afterward. In terms of the economy, the use of GI in stormwater management has been a positive step for the city. After the flooding occurs, the city uses green roofs to capture water and help support agricultural endeavors. Also, GI includes the use of sustainable landscapes, which will cost less to fix after a typhoon. After a typhoon occurs, the environment is damaged tremendously. In the case of Typhoon Lan, there was flooding from the ocean, strong winds, and superfluous amounts of storm water resulting from rain. The use of GI for stormwater management also has an appeal to society. The resulting stormwater can be recycled and reused within the city, which leads to an efficient usage of the water through the city’s residents. In China, GI systems have also been considered in areas affected by flooding. The Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture conducted similar studies and recorded the advantages of GI systems in the journal, “Management of Urban Stormwater by Green Infrastructures”5. The cause and effect relationship of this event shows the necessity for preparation before a natural disaster event. The relationship proves that if preemptive measures are taken, stormwater management and flooding can be relatively controlled, and if not, and event such as a typhoon could devastate an area.


  1. Lies E, Yamazaki M. Typhoon kills at least two in Japan, prompts call for thousands to evacuate. Reuters UK. Published October 21, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  2. Deadly Typhoon Lan slams Japan: Photos, here. The Weather Network. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  3. Typhoon Lan heads out to sea, leaves three dead and flooding in Japan. The Straits Times. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  4. Kato S. Green infrastructure use trends in the USA and a successful city-wide implementation strategy in Nagoya, Japan. Resilient Cities- ICLEI. Published May 30, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  5. Wei Z. Management of Urban Stormwater Runoff by Green Infrastructures. CNKI. Published 2011. Accessed February 11, 2018.
  6. At Least 2 Killed as Powerful Typhoon Slams Into Japan. VOA. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed February 11, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Jesalyn Claeys makes this connection in Guangzhou, China. This current event was reported in Water and Megacities on June 17, 2011 under the title “Urbanisation in China and the Effects on Water Resources – The Example Guangzhou” by Klaus Baier. This article is likely accurate as another article titled “Cleaning Up China’s Polluted Pearl River” on the World Bank website also addresses this event.

According to the article, this region has developed from a small city to one of the most densely populated areas in the world in just 10 years. Because of its rapid development, Guangzhou, China is currently facing serious water quality problems. These problems are due to the fact that the municipality lacks the water and wastewater treatment facilities to keep up with the needs of the population. These disciplines of WRE are necessary to protect the health of the citizens. In this city, there are open sewers that often flow into the Pearl River without being treated. Not only does this pollute the surface water, but water from the Pearl River often recharges the groundwater that is used for drinking water. Due to the lack of water and wastewater treatment, tap water in Guangzhou often contains coliform bacteria and ammonia. As Guangzhou works to improve its water quality, the solutions they find can be useful to water-resources engineers around the world that are facing similar problems. Although this is a problem that is still facing Guangzhou, this article should have outlined some of the first steps that are being taken to address this problem.

Figure 1. Open sewer in Guangzhou, China

This multifaceted issue has far-reaching impacts in Guangzhou. First, it is, at its core, an environmental issue as the Pearl River Delta is being polluted by sewage. The effects on the environment also lead to social issues as those with less money have more trouble accessing clean water. While the article didn’t mention specific economic issues caused by Guangzhou’s water quality, it is likely that there are also economic impacts.


Baier K. Urbanisation in China and the Effects on Water Resources – The Example Guangzhou. Water and Megacities. Published June 17, 2011. Accessed February 9, 2018.

Cleaning Up China’s Polluted Pearl River. World Bank. Published May 26, 2016. Accessed February 9, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Martha Caster makes this connection in Istanbul, Turkey. This current event was reported in by Hurriyet Daily News online news, on January 9, 2018, under the title “Plunging water levels in Turkish dams heightening concerns.1” This is likely real news, based on the Daily Sabah Turkey in January 11, 2018 providing an independent report on this current event as well. Twitter user Ahval also confirmed this story by tweeting “The risk of a large-scale drought in Turkey is bigger than ever, experts warned, after many regions in the east of the country saw almost no rain at all this winter” on January 31, 2018.

The news about drought and dropping dam levels relates to WRE, in the specific areas of per-capita demand, agricultural irrigation, and water conservation practices. Because Turkey is located in a semi-arid region, it is regular practice during the winter and spring seasons to collect and store excess runoff and water that accumulates. However, recent climate change has caused the amount of rainfall to decrease and the overall heat to increase in recent years. According to Hurriyet Daily News, 2017 was the driest year in 44 years3 and ten dams in Istanbul have shrunken to 65% levels.1 This lack of stored water could potentially lead to 2018 being a very dry year which would then compound to future years having an even worse water shortage. Turkey has heavily invested into their future water shortage by constructing 111 dams, 38 artificial ponds, 184 irrigation facilities, and 28 drinking water facilities in 2017, 3 however, it may still not be enough. Water shortage is a severe problem because without it, life cannot be sustained. Therefore, WRE needs to take a closer look at the past water usage in order to ensure the most effective and practical methods are being and will be implemented. The current water usage also need to be considered to better plan future water usage. In my critique of this news story, I think the article has missed important information on how agriculture and their practices will respond. If sufficient water cannot be found through natural means, more effective ways of treating and reusing wastewater should be researched into possible integration into agriculture.

Figure 1 Illustrating low dam levels in Istanbul, Turkey1

To consider the economic, environmental, and societal issues is paramount for this current event. In the future summer months when rainfall is not as frequent, costs could rise for nearly every type of service or product. Specifically, farms would be one of the most economically effected industry. Environmentally, the amount of deforestation is increasing, making the amount of green space dropping heavily as more and more areas are drying up. As climate expert Prof. Dr. Ümit Erdem clearly states “the most urgent thing we need to do is to increase the amount of greenery. If instead of building dams, we protect our trees, more affective results can be obtained. Every new dam creates a new ecological system. This situation damages other ecosystems.1” If more green areas can be created, it can be considered a future investment by creating an environment that can sustain the holding of water. Because both the economy and environment are seriously affected, consequently societal life is impacted as well. A socioeconomic drought is also forecasted in the future, which means that the demand for an economic good exceeds the supply or the need for water would be too high in comparison to the amount of reserved water. Like earlier stated, without water, no life can survive. No one will be able to continue living in Turkey without a sufficient water supply.4 Related to the environmental impact of a drought on a water supply system is this article, “The combined effects of a long-term experimental drought and an extreme drought on the use of plant-water sources in a Mediterranean forest.” In this article, it emphasizes the importance of creating a hospitable environmental for water so that water will not dry up as quickly.5


  1. Plunging water levels in Turkish dams heightening concerns. Hurryiyet Daily News. Published January 9, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  2. Turkey counts on future rain amid drought concerns. Daily Sabah Turkey. Published January 11, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  3. Turkey experiencing worst drought in 44 years: Minister. Hurryiyet Daily News. Published December 28, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  4. National Weather Service. Drought Fact Sheet. Published October 2012. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  5. Barbeta A, Mejía-Chang M, Ogaya R, Voltas J, Dawson T, Peñuelas J. The combined effects of a long-term experimental drought and an extreme drought on the use of plant-water sources in a Mediterranean forest. Global Change Biology[serial online]. March 2015;21(3):1213-1225. Available from: GreenFILE, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 1, 2018. York Ltd, New York, 2002.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Dana Carris makes this connection in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This current event was reported in the Dhaka Tribune on January 12, 2018, under the title “Water and sanitation crisis unfolds in Rohingya camps”, by Abdul Aziz. This article contains statistics and interviews regarding the Rohingya camps established in the Cox’s bazar district of Bangladesh, which was featured in Time Magazine Article on November 23, 2017.

Beginning in late August 2017, the Myanmar military began a vendetta against the Rohingya people living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar. Approximately 1.2 million Rohingya people fled over the border to Bangladesh and have been allocated 3,000 acres of forest in the Cox’s Bazar district. Hastily made toilets, a lapse in sewage management, and poorly planned well drilling has created a health crisis for the residents of the 12 camps. This story relates directly to water resources engineering in the fields of wastewater management and groundwater supply systems. As part of international relief efforts, tube wells were installed to provide clean water, and toilets were installed. Local authorities claim these wells were drilled in an unplanned manner, where multiple wells exist in the same location and none in some areas of need (Aziz, 2018). The wells were installed during the rainy season when water levels were high and now the water table has dropped, putting the wells out of order. The lack of toilets and poor planning has lead to overflowing sewage and water stagnation in some parts of the camp, causing horrendous odor (Aziz, 2018). To properly install the wells, the government should have examined the groundwater hydrology and drilled below the water table level expected in the dry season.

Figure 1:Rohingya refugees line up for water at a refugee camp near Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh.

Figure 2:Children play around polluted water streaming through Kutupalong unofficial camp, where an estimated 20,000 people are living.

The water quality concerns at the Rohingya camps pose many problems for the refugees, humanitarian workers, and all organizations involved in the response. The poor distribution of wells, and the lack of water during the dry season is causing people to travel great distances for clean water, or drink contaminated water (Figure 1). Standing water and overflowing toilets are increase the risk for water borne diseases such as cholera and provide a breeding ground for mosquitos and other vectors (Figure 2). The poor planning of wells and sewage management is causing the government to invest in new wells and redevelop sanitary installations at the camps. If these provisions were installed correctly the first time, the money used for these installations could have been directed towards additional food and medical supplies. Likewise, more money will need to be spent on medical supplies to treat the people getting sick from the water. In addition to the societal and economic impacts of this crisis, the large number of wells being used in this area will affect the ground water and potentially surface water hydrology as the aquifers are drawn down from overuse. The aquifers may also be recharged with the unmanaged wastewater and contaminate the drinking water for the camps. This same waste water may pollute surrounding water bodies with nutrients and bacterium, as is common with leaky septic tanks (Hayes, 1990).


Aziz, A. (2018, January 12). Water and sanitation crisis unfolds in Rohingya camps. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Solomon, F. (2017, November 23). Rohingya Refugees: Myanmar’s Crisis Is Bangladesh’s Burden. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Hayes, S., Newland, L., Morgan, K., & Dean, K. (1990). Septic tank and agricultural non‐point source pollution within a rural watershed [Abstract]. Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry, 26(1-4), 137-155. doi:10.1080/02772249009357541

News, V. (2017, September 16). Bangladesh Government to Build Camp for 400,000 Rohingya Muslim Refugees. Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Bangladesh: The Rohingya Moved From One Deplorable Situation to Another. (2009, June 10). Retrieved February 06, 2018, from

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our student Elliott Carlson makes this connection in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  This current event was reported in The International Water Association, on April 17, 2017, under the title, Argentina, expanding availability of water and sanitation, by Tom Williams.  This is found to be accurate by referencing similar information found in the 2011 report by The Guardian stating that 11% of Argentina’s population lacked infrastructure for water and sanitation.  Also stated, nearly every month Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernández, introduces projects that would provide these amenities to the densely populated districts on the outskirts of Buenos Aires (Valente, 2011).

Figure 1 Palermo Water Treatment Plan, Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos, AySA, Buenos Aires (Saltiel, 2017)

As a sub-discipline of civil engineering, WRE is concerned with the collection and management of water.  This includes the prediction and management of the quality and the quantity of water in both underground and above ground sources.  Further, the specific discipline of Hydraulic Engineering is concerned with the flow and conveyance of fluids.  This area focuses on the design of pipelines, water supply networks, drainage facilities, and canals (Islamic University, 2015).  These disciplines can be directly related to this current event regarding water distribution in Argentina.  Both Water Resources Engineers and Hydraulic Engineers are involved in the infrastructure development process in order to further provide parts of Buenos Aires access to water and sanitation. This is important for WRE because it creates an opportunity to apply what is known and design a system while overcoming and adapting to challenges along the way.  The current event article does not mention the fact that WRE involves resource management through hydrology, meteorology, and geology while the actual task of designing a sanitation or water distribution facility is left to civil engineers in a separate sub-discipline (Islamic University, 2015).

Three common important issues can be defined as economic, environmental, and societal; all of which play a role in this specific current event.  All of these issues are important to assess in a design because a balance is created between money, the area, and the people.  The event discusses the 1999 ‘Argentine great depression’ and how it led to political, social, and economic instability.  The event briefly discusses the challenge of working with diminishing water resources.  However, there is not much detail regarding the specifics of the situation or any design solutions to remedy the environmental problem.  The event mentions the issue of designing for an expanding population.  Topics of discussion include the correct institutional model for delivering water and sanitation services for expanding boundaries and growing populations (Williams, 2017).  One main societal issue found in this event is the inequity of water access.  As distance from the center of Buenos Aries increases, the likelihood of access to piped water and sanitation decreases.  According to the head of the Green Cross Argentina (GSA), Marisa Arienza, access to piped water has increased from 66% in 1991 to 89% today (Valente, 2011).  The demand for clean water and sanitation leads to the analysis of the resource in the environment.  This further develops designs to capture and distribute the resource in an inexpensive, sustainable, and impartial method.  The work done in WRE allows for designs to be implemented, allowing for a period of prosperity and further development in Buenos Aries, Argentina.


Faculty of Engineering. Sub-disciplines of Civil Engineering. The Islamic University in Madinah. Published 2015. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Saltiel G. How will Argentina achieve universal access to water and sanitation? Takeaways from International Water Association Conference in Buenos Aires. The Water Blog. Published December 18, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Valente M. Access to clean water in Argentina remains a work in progress, says report. The Guardian. Published December 16, 2011. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Williams T. Argentina, expanding availability of water and sanitation. International Water Association. Published April 17, 2017. Accessed February 5, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Lucas Cain makes this connection in the city of Karachi, Pakistan. This current event was reported in Al Jazeera, on December 18, 2017, under the title “Parched for a price: Karachi’s Water Crisis,” by Asad Hashim1. This information is supported by articles from reputable news sources such as The Guardian2 and the L.A. Times3.

In Karachi, Water Resources Engineers are running into obstacle after obstacle. So far, they have not been able to come close to supplying a sufficient quantity of safe water for public use. According to the article, only about half of the required water deemed appropriate by the UN for a city of this size is currently supplied. Water is supplied from Keenjhar Lake and the Indus River at a rate of 550 MGD. However, roughly 235 MGD is lost along the way, either from leakages or theft. According to Dawn News, as much as 91 percent of this water has been deemed unsafe to drink, due to the presence of coliform bacteria, turbidity, and other impurities4. These are outrageous numbers, especially when considering the number of people that are affected.  Karachi is the sixth largest megacity in the world, with a population of 24.3 million5. The importance of solving this issue can hardly be understated in such a fast growing, politically unstable region. The article covers most issues thoroughly, but fails to adequately address the issues that come with the unprecedented growth of the city. In the first decade of the millennium, Karachi was the fastest growing megacity in the world, growing in population by more than 80 percent6. Clearly, the government has not been able to keep up with this pace, and this is more than likely the reason for the high levels of fecal coliform.

Figure 1: The KWSB removes an illegal hydrant8

The water problem facing Karachi is multifaceted, with economic, environmental, and societal components. All the destabilizing factions of the city play a key role. The areas that face the most water shortages are by no accident the poorest. Corruption within the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) and the police ensures that organized crime can steal water using illegal hydrants and sell it at overpriced rates where it is not available. Much of the city has no choice but to buy from these vendors. Furthermore, the water board is virtually bankrupt, with only about 60 percent of consumers paying their bill. It cannot keep pace with operational costs, let alone expanding its network with the growth of the city. Karachi is growing in an unplanned manner, and not all settlements even fall under the jurisdiction of the city. These people must find water for themselves. Motor operated wells can be installed, but in the areas where they are needed, few can afford them. The groundwater is too highly saline for consumption, so it is used for cleaning. A study from 2011 found that both the surface and groundwater of Karachi were polluted from a variety of sources of municipal and industrial wastes, with extremely high levels of nearly every type of pollutant. Similar conclusions were drawn regarding the need for increased regulations and enforcement7. Without public awareness, this problem will likely to persist. This is the best place to start to increase the availability of clean water in Karachi.


  1. Hashim, A. Parched for a price: Karachi’s water crisis. Al Jazeera. Published December 18, 2017. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  2. Toppa, S. Dry dams, leaky pipes and tanker mafias- Karachi’s water crisis. The Guardian. Published June 28, 2016. Accessed January 31, 2017.
  3. Rodriguez, A. Karachi ‘water mafia’ leaves Pakistanis parched and broke. Los Angeles Times. Published March 16, 2010. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  4. Ebrahim, Z. T. 91 percent of Karachi’s water is unfit to drink. Dawn. Updated July 31, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2018.
  5. Allaby M, Park C. A dictionary of environment and conservation. Oxford, United Kingdom. Oxford University Press, 2017.
  6. Kotkin J, Cox W. The world’s fastest growing megacities. Published April 8, 2013. Accessed February 2, 2018.
  7. Azizullah A, Muhammad NKK, Richter P, Häder DP. Water pollution in Pakistan and its impact on public health – A review. Environment International. 2011; 37 479-497 gj6dja.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1517608589&Signature=fjb2v%2FpofXKuOcHhRspb%2FX1LOGY%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DWater_pollution_in_Pakistan_and_its_impa.pdf Accessed February 2, 2018.
  8. Heavy machinery devastating an illegal hydrant during anti encroachment drive operated by Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) at Manghopir area in Karachi on Saturday, May 03, 2014. The News International. Published May 3, 2014. Accessed February 2, 2018.