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. http://www.waterandmegacities.org/urbanisation-in-china-and-the-effects-on-water-resources-%E2%80%93-the-example-guangzhou/. Published June 17, 2011. Accessed February 9, 2018.

Cleaning Up China’s Polluted Pearl River. World Bank. http://www.worldbank.org/en/results/2016/05/26/cleaning-up-china-polluted-pearl-river. Published May 26, 2016. Accessed February 9, 2018.