Category: ERE340 2013


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Catherine Sobchuk makes the connection between WRE and economic and environmental issues here… On January 24th, 2013, Brandon Loomis of The Arizona Republic reported the news entitled, “Grand Canyon flood experiment restores beaches on the USA Today online news site. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology, specifically the effects of artificial flooding of the Grand Canyon by Glen Canyon Dam. In brief, this article reports on the efforts and effects of replenishing the sand bars along the Colorado River that have eroded since the dam’s completion. The river washes sediment away to Lake Mead, and upstream sediment is unavailable to replace it because it is blocked by the Glen Canyon Dam. The flooding of the dam allows the blocked sediment to flow along the river and churns up additional sand from the bottom of the river, replenishing the eroded sand bars. The experimental flooding is executed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and monitored throughout the year by the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC). Some conservationists believe the flooding of the dam is not doing enough for the sand bars, and that alternative actions should be taken to transport sediment down the river. These options include breaching the dam, transporting sediment around it, or giving up altogether. The results from this flood will not be fully known until later in the year, but so far the targeted sand bars have grown, while others have not grown as much. The article goes in depth about the benefits the sand bars have to the environment, the potential economic effects, but does not discuss the testing or monitoring techniques. The GCMRC would need to monitor how the sand bars grow and erode and how the habit around the sand bars change. This article intended to focus on the effects of the experimental flooding, but it would have benefited from describing how the sand bars would be monitored.

 

WRE is an interdisciplinary field that involves the management of hydrologic and hydraulic systems to reduce negative impacts and maximize positive impacts. The flooding of the Colorado River at the Glen Canyon Dam would have beneficial impacts on the environment in the river system, but the flooding and its alternatives also have negative economic impacts on the surrounding community. The flooding is meant to provide “young endangered humpback chubs a shelter from the river…a windborne source of cover for uphill archaeological sites and a purchase for vegetation.” This would increase the fish numbers and diversity and promote the growth of a variety of vegetation along the sand bars, potentially returning the river to pre-dam conditions. However, when the dam is bypassed, the Colorado River Energy Distributors Association reported about $1.4 million in power generation was lost, a serious economic cost. There is also the economic cost of more than $100 million if the alternative pipeline is built to transport sediment around the dam. To determine if the environmental benefits outweigh the economic costs, a cost-benefit will have to be conducted. The environmental benefits can be measured by determining how much money people would be willing to pay to visit the site if it was back to pre-dam conditions and by determining the price of any other environmental benefits. This is then compared to the costs of breaching the dam or building a pipeline to complete the analysis. After all of the results are collected and analyzed, the GCMRC will be able to determine if the experimental flooding has the intended effects and therefore, if it should be continued.

Figure 1: The Colorado River is flooded November 19, 2012 from bypass tubes at Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona.

Figure 1: The Colorado River is flooded November 19, 2012 from bypass tubes at Glen Canyon Dam in Page, Arizona.

 

References

Loomis, Brandon. “Grand Canyon flood experiment restores beaches.” USA Today. Gannett, 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/24/ grand-canyon-flood-experiment-restores-beaches-habitat/1863483/>.

 

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Matthew Teitelbaum makes this connection here by looking at how the water that is used during hydraulic fracturing is affecting watersheds in the Pennsylvania Monongahela River.

The article on the news I’m covering is called “Sewage Plants Struggle To Treat Wastewater Produced By Fracking Operations.” I found this article on the online website Chemical & Engineering News, which was written on March 18, 2013. This WRE news article is a hydraulic news report, which talks about how water quality is being affected by hydraulic fracturing. This article talks about how the water that is being used for hydraulic fracturing is being reused in sewage plants and is actually affecting the water quality in the Pennsylvania Monongahela River watershed. The WRE facts in the article are the description of what hydraulic fracturing is and about what the EPA standard drinking water levels should be. But, the article left out is what the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is going to do to fix this problem.

Hydraulic fracturing impacts the environment and societal hydraulic domain in this area of Pennsylvania. Hydraulic fracturing in this area disrupts the water quality in the area, which affects the marine life and the water that we can drink. This article relates the WRE issue to the impacts of the Pennsylvania watershed area because of the problem it’s having with elevated bromide levels in the watershed from the reuse of the water that is used for hydraulic fracturing in the area.  In another source I found it explains how the wastewater treatment plants cant handle the high levels of contaminated water, causing elevated levels of chemicals to flow right back into the river from the treatment plant. The wastewater treatment plants can’t handle the high magnitudes of chemicals that are still in the water that is being reused. This is making the water flow right back into the watershed with the contaminated water.

 

References

Nichols, Duane. “Frack Water Too Contaminated For Sewage Treatment Plants.” Frack Check WV RSS. N.p., 22 Mar. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013. <http://www.frackcheckwv.net/2013/03/22/frack-water-too-contaminated-for-sewage-treatment-plants/&gt;.

 

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and
hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student,
Amanda Kullman, makes makes this connection here…

On November 30, 2012, National Geographic published a spread called “Water Grabbers: A Global Rush on Freshwater.” The expose addresses how global water consumption today is and will impact global food security, the environment and local cultures. In a specific article entitled “Grabbing Water From Future Generations,” Fred Pearce reports on the water industry abroad and how overpopulation has led to the depletion of the worldʼs most valuable resource: water. The article begins with an interview of an Indian man who no longer grows crops but instead farms water. To do so, he has drilled wells and inserted pumps to bring water to the surface so tanker trucks can come and fill up each day. The article then turns to address how draining aquifers is essentially turning water from the most abundant renewable resource into a non-renewable one. The aquifers are being emptied quicker than they can naturally recharge and in turn, places like India, Pakistan, China and even the United States are encountering water shortages. This article addresses both hydraulic and hydrologic issues with the drilling and pumping pertaining to the former and the distribution and movement pertaining to the latter. This article accurately represents water resources engineering facts as verified by an article entitled “Future Water Availability for Global Food Production” and a USGS production called “Groundwater Depletion.” Both sources address other locations in the world that are suffering from groundwater depletion and investigate how this issue can be overcome. The article does an excellent job of addressing the issue as well as the solution but fails to address how the water industry is effecting those who do not have the money to invest in it and cannot profit from the changes being made. Global wealth distribution is impacted by natural resources and people are impacted by water availability just as they are effected by things like the oil and gas industry.

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Figure 1 – In places like India, the ground water pumping industry is booming but having a negative effect on the environment. Source: “Grabbing Water From Future Generations”

Groundwater pumping is an industry that is vastly interconnected and has economic, environmental and global implications. On an economic level, groundwater pumping creates a division of wealth. Those who are capable of investing in the industry will see enormous gains. The ability to access abundant water resources in areas like the Middle East or India is something that all people are reliant on and those individuals who make this necessity a more accessible reality will see tremendous returns. Environmentally, this practice is a double edged sword. Bringing water to arid regions provides people with the ability to farm and increase domestic production. A specific example of this would be the wheat fields in Saudi Arabia (Karam). On the other hand, the rate at which water is withdrawn from aquifers can be detrimental to the landscape. It has the potential to lower the natural water table and reduce the amount of water that is readily available in lakes and rivers (Perlman). This is a global issue because water, which is the worldʼs most abundant natural resource, is being so abundantly consumed that it is creating water shortage and water quality issues across the globe. Places like Abu Dhabi now need to find ways to recharge aquifers because water is so scarce (Brook, Houqani, et al.). If aquifers continue to be depleted at a high rate, countries without coastlines could have great difficulty accessing water. In general, the cause-effect relationship of water scarcity is a never ending circle. As water becomes scarce, countries find new ways of extracting water (ie. tapping aquifers), which in turn has the potential to lead to water shortages due to over pumping. Nations that are dependent on aquifers as their main source of water need to address sustainability issues if they are to avoid future water crises.

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Figure 2 – Global map of groundwater depletion. 1000 on the scale is equal to one cubic kilometer of depletion per year. Source: http://blogs.agu.org/geospace/files/2010/09/Groundwaterdepletion-
map.jpg

As demonstrated, groundwater use is a hydraulic and a hydrologic issue that impacts local economies, the environment and the global community.

 

References

Rockström, J., M. Falkenmark, L. Karlberg, H. Hoff, S. Rost, and D. Gerten (2009), Future water availability for global food production: The potential of green water for increasing resilience to global change, Water Resour. Res., 45, W00A12, doi:10.1029/2007WR006767.

Perlman, Howard. United States. U.S. Geological Survey. Groundwater Depletion. U.S.
Department of the Interior, 2013. Print. <http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/
gwdepletion.html>.Brook, M.C., H. Al Houqani, et al. Abu Dhabi. Environment Agency. Groundwater

Resources: Development & Management in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United
Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Environment Agency, Print.
<https://www.ead.ae/Tacsoft/FileManager/Publications/reports/TERC/UAE
JAPAN 2006 Groundwater Resources Development and Manag….pdf>.

Karam , Souhail. “Saudi Arabia scraps wheat growing to save water .” Reuters. 08 Jan
2008: n. page. Print. <http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/01/08/
idUSL08699206>.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics
with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Kelsey Jardine, makes
this connection here…

The article titled, “Worse than Poisoned Water: Dwindling Water, in China’s North” was reported by Didi Kirsten Tatlow, in the New York Times on February 15th, 2013. The article is related to the WRE domain of both hydrology and hydraulics. This issue is that pollution from a factory was spilled into a clean water resource and that even before the water was contaminated, fresh clean water in Northern China was dangerously low. In the end of December, the Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group spilled about 39 tons of toxic chemicals. This spill polluted the clean drinking water in the surrounding area, China’s Shanxi province. Not only is drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people polluted, but other water resources are drying up. The United Nations said that China was one of the top countries with “extreme water shortages” (Tatlow). In 2006, China used 13 percent of the world freshwater, and even then over half of the cities in China had water shortage issues (Sekiguchi). The southern end of China has much better supply of rain water than the northern side of China. This is why the South-North Water Transfer Project has been presented as a solution. It will bring water from the South to the North to supply the cities and towns with clean water. The project is expected to cost about 62 billion dollars, and will divert 44.8 billion cubic meter of water a year (International Rivers). While this solution seems like a relatively good idea, one would have to account for the water supply to Southern China and how removing so much water will affect the people. Furthermore, there will be a lot of pipe network involved in transferring the water and that will lead to some problems.

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Figure 1 – Warning sign about polluted water

The article should have commented more on other proposed solutions and the effect of these possible solutions. Also what happens if there are no solutions implicated? This article is very relevant to the current problems affecting every country. Water is one of the most important resources in the world, and it is running out. There are many issues facing countries with little to no clean water. Not only will people die without a clean water source, but many things are produced and run with water. Engineers have to come up with more efficient way of transporting water and preserving the fresh water resource. This will affect the country economically as well, like the proposed South-North Water Transfer Project for China. Pollution is also a huge problem in many countries. Pollution contaminates clean water and harms the environment surrounding the contamination. It is important to minimize these contaminates in the environment if not for the preservation of the land but for the health and lives of people.

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Figure 2 – Planned route of the South-North Water Transfer Project

 

References 

Tatlow, Didi K. “Worse Than Poisoned Water: Dwindling Water, in China’s North.” New York Times. N.p., 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Sekiguchi, Rylan. “Water Issues in China.” SPICE Stanford. N.p., Sept. 2006. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

“South-North Water Transfer Project.” International Rivers. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Donald Doherty makes this connection here…

The article entitled, “Philadelphia Cleans Up Storm Water with Innovative Program” was reported by National Geographic News in their June 6, 2012 Daily News. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology with the specific issue being the movement of storm water in the city of Philadelphia. The article is reporting news of a robbery in Philadelphia; a rain barrel was stolen from the city of Philadelphia which was provided with the city’s Green City Clean Waters program. The author, Paul McRandle, jokes that it is a good sign that a water barrel was stolen because it shows that the barrels work. The Green City Clean Water program has goals to implement green technology throughout the city to help deter water to aid the combined sewer system to not overflow. They plan to use green roofs, porous pavement, storm water planters, rain gardens, as well as rain barrels. The program hopes to keep one inch of rain water out of the sewer system in a twenty four hour period, which is estimated to be roughly all of the waterfall for eighty percent of the storms that occur in Philadelphia. To my knowledge this article is accurately reporting on the program occurring in Philadelphia as the EPA invested $400,000 into the program according to EPA.gov. Phillywatersheds.org also shows the progress that has been made on the installation of different storm water tree trenches as well as green roofs.

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Figure 1 – A storm planter in Philadelphia

This article shows how hydrology relates to economics, society, and the environment. Economics can be related to almost any project as the majority of projects require funds to bring the project into reality. In this case EPA made this project possible with their investment, they are hoping that the investment will lead to an extremely positive outcome, leading to many more cities starting similar programs. Society is affected by this because the people of Philadelphia have to worry about the effect that extreme water storms may have on the water that they use every day. This article relates more to the effect on the environment because the storm sewer system releases the water into a river, causing the river to sometimes be polluted with sewage. This affects any organisms that require water that live in the area because their only water source could be unhealthy for them.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Emily Herbst makes this connection here…

The news entitled, “Trinity River wetlands construction brings Dallas Floodway Extension Project closer to city’s core” was reported by the Dallas Morning News in their February 3, 2013 online news. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of the magnitude and occurrence of floodwater. In brief, this news article reports on the Dallas Floodway Extension Project. Currently the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Dallas are completing the work by building levees and wetlands along the Trinity River. The goal of this construction is to protect the surrounding property and reduce flooding. Unfortunately, due to federal budget cuts, this 11 year Floodway Extension project has now been reduced to simply continuing the wetland development. This development is going to result in three connecting wetland cells located next to Trinity River. The creations of man-made wetlands are resulting in tearing down 200 acres of trees and leveling the land near the river. However, in attempts to compensate for the loss of this ecosystem the city will preserve 1,200 acres of grassland and woodland and plant additional vegetation. Some construction problems have arisen: the soil needs lead smelter pollution eradication and the previously mentioned funding problems have stopped levee and wastewater treatment progress. Previous construction has resulted in a chain of wetlands already created downstream, further away from the city. These cells ease the flow, reduce floodwater height, both upstream and downstream, and offer habitat for wildlife. Once the wetland extension project has been completed, both chains of wetland will span almost four miles and offer 270 acres of improved habitat. The average size will be approximately 600 ft wide and 7ft deep when full. The wetland will receive water coming from city’s wastewater treatment plant which gravity pulls through the chain. The 40 plant species in this ecosystem absorb nutrients in the water and clean effluents before it drains into Trinity River.

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Figure 1 – Wetland cell constructed upstream of the Trinity River in Dallas, Texas.

In addition to plant biodiversity, there are multiple mammal and reptile species and 91 species of birds. Wetlands are forgiving so even if the wetland experiences extreme flooding or drought the diversity should continue to thrive and improve. I believe the article is accurately representing WRE facts regarding the Trinity River watershed construction. The flood protection measures that were initially planned coincide with the Trinity Watershed Management Department Flood Control (Welcome to the City of Dallas, Texas). Additionally, the use of these watersheds biodiversity allow for removal of pollutants from Trinity River without the use of a treatment facility as also stated in “Water Pollution”. This article failed to mention the impact on the surrounding community both regarding the increased water quality and wildlife and thoughts of the community on the aesthetics of the wetlands replacing the woodland.

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Figure 2 – Satellite image of wetland construction along Trinity River in Dallas, Texas.

 

Water resource engineering is considered an interdisciplinary field that has impacts among global, economic, environmental, and societal realms. The Floodway Extension Project deals with societal and environmental areas. The occurrence and magnitude of floods impact the community’s ability to exist and function during flood seasons. Environmentally, this project is offering an entirely new system of biodiversity and ecosystems. Additionally, the use of wetlands creates a natural water cleansing system. I found the flood protection of the Dallas Floodway also reported on Dallas’ city hall website (referenced below). Without this Floodway Extension Project, the city of Dallas would experience more floods with a larger magnitude than they would if the wetland cells were not implemented. Also, they would have to have wastewater treatment plants filter all their water, whereas in this case, the wetlands can assist with some cleansing.

 

References

Appleton, Roy. “Trinity River Wetlands Construction Brings Dallas Floodway Extension Project Closer to City’s Core.” Dallasnews.com – News for Dallas, Texas – The Dallas Morning News. N.p., 3 Feb. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

King Thomas, Lashun, Dr. “Water Pollution.” CIE 341: Introduction to Environmental Engineering. Syracuse, New York. 23 Oct. 2012. Lecture.

“Welcome to the City of Dallas, Texas – Trinity Watershed.” Welcome to the City of Dallas, Texas – Trinity Watershed. City of Dallas, Texas, 2012. Web. 24 Feb. 2013.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Nick Guerin makes this connection here…

This article entitled, “Oil Giants Heading to Trial in Water Pollution Lawsuit” was reported by the New York Times in December of 2012. This article relates to the hydrology domain of WRE and specifically the issue of ground water pollution. The state of New Hampshire is suing the oil companies Exxon Mobil and Citgo for products liability damages. The state is claiming that the chemical M.T.B.E., or methyl tertiary butyl ether, has contaminated a large portion of their groundwater. M.T.B.E. is a gasoline additive that has been in use since the 1970s and is used to increase octane and reduce smog causing emissions. Unfortunately it is also a carcinogen and renders water unpalatable once it has been contaminated. This suit was filled back in 2003 but due to the unprecedented complexities that this case is presenting it has taken nearly ten years to finally reach a jury, which is a serious concern for the state when nearly 60 percent of its inhabitants rely on private wells for drinking water and the likelihood of contamination has done nothing but increase. Based on my knowledge of WRE, this article is an accurate and important WRE issue. According to the EPA, over 200,000 barrels of M.T.B.E. are produced per day in the US alone (Gasoline, 2012). This is startling news when you consider that M.T.B.E. is highly soluble in water, has low soil absorption rates and poor natural biodegradation, resulting in quick buildup and easy transportation of this pollutant throughout groundwater systems (MTBE, 2002). Unfortunately this article did not address the amount of M.T.B.E. thought to be contaminating New Hampshire’s water, nor the extent of the area affected.

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Figure 1 – Concentrations of MTBE in public and private wells

WRE is a very broad field, with focuses in a wide array of different contextual areas. This article in particular focuses more on the economic aspects of WRE, as it pertains to the costs associated with the testing and possible cleanup of New Hampshire’s groundwater supply as a result of the M.T.B.E pollution. The economic aspect of WRE usually focuses on the economic costs of undertaking large scale hydrologic or hydraulic projects. And this is no small task that New Hampshire is undertaking, they are currently fighting for $700 million in damages to fund the testing and possible remediation of groundwater contaminated with M.T.B.E., according to Lynne Tuohy of the Claims Journal (Tuohy, 2012).

 

References

“Gasoline.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 27 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

“MTBE: A Four Letter Word in Water Pollution.” Environmental Protection. N.p., 01 Oct. 2002. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

Tuohy, Lynne. “Long-Awaited New Hampshire MTBE Pollution Liability Trial to Start.”Claims Journal News. N.p., 31 Dec. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2013.

 

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Bill Finch makes this connection here…

The article Western Utility Seeds Clouds to Boost Size of Snowpack, by Tim Newcomb of Engineering News-Record on January 14, explains how Idaho Power is using the innovative approach of cloud seeding to increase snowpack. The company relies on snowmelt for its hydropower facilities. The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of distribution and movement of water, but also positive economic impacts, without negatively affecting the environment.

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Figure 1 – One of Idaho Power’s 36 remotely operated ground-seeding sites.

Cloud seeding has been around since the 1940s, and was in fact discovered not far from Syracuse, at the General Electric laboratories in Schenectady, NY (Cole, 2005). The process has recently been implemented by Idaho Power, who depends on water supplied by snowmelt for its hydroelectric operations. The article explains, “Cloud seeding involves injecting silver iodine into supercool liquid portions of a cloud, says engineer Shawn Parkinson.” The particles then form into ice crystals and fall to the ground, like natural snow. The injection is performed primarily by two methods –by planes or by ground generation units, which Idaho Power currently employs (Figure 1).

Idaho Power has been using cloud seeding for about a decade now, and after seeing the results, they have decided to expand the program. What they have seen is a 5% to 15% increase in snowpack, with recent annual returns around 13%. The increase in snowpack results in 200,000 additional acre-feet of water for their three-dam Hells Canyon complex annually. That’s enough to generate enough power for roughly 7,900 homes. Right now, the economic return is about 2:1, but they expect returns of closer to 5:1 when they’re not doing so much research. Other studies have noted even greater returns on winter cloud seeding, on the order of 10:1 (Griffith 2002) In regards to the environmental impact of cloud seeding, the article says. “Studies have found that the trace amounts of silver iodine-measured in parts per trillion-have no effect on the environment.” 

 

References

Stephen Cole, “Weather on Demand,” American Heritage, 2005. http://www.chymist.com/Weather%20on%20Demand.pdf

Griffith, D. A., & Solak, M. E. (2002). Economic Feasibility Assessment of Winter Cloud Seeding in the Boise River Drainage, Idaho. Journal of Weather Modification34, 39-46. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http://www.nawcinc.com/Boise_feasibility.p

Newcomb, Tim. (2013). Western Utility Seeds Clouds To Boost Size of Snowpack. Engineering News-Record, Retrieved from http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic

Water Resource Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Christopher Honess makes this connection here…

Hydraulics is connected with global, environmental, and socio-cultural issues as well as being a part of water resources.  The article, “How Rains Force Pilgrims to Leave Kumbh Mela Before Schedule”, is reported by the Indian run economic times.indiatimes.com and was issued on February 17, 2013 around 4pm Indian Standard Time.  The article reported heavy rains over the last two days which has caused chaos for the world’s largest gathering.   In Allahabad, India, this year along the banks of the confluence of the three rivers, the Ganges, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati, the Hindus are celebrating Kumbh Mela, a mass pilgrimage to a major river for a bath in the sacred rivers of India.  Kumbh means “pitcher” and Mela means “fair” having to do with the drops of nectar that are believed to fall from the gods after the sea is churned (Wikipedia.org).  This year, the festival is being held in Allahabad where, on the 10th of February, they recorded the “world’s largest human gathering on a single day” with over 30 million devotees taking a dip in the river.  NPR’s Julie McCarthy said “It’s as if the combined populations of Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota showed up at the same place and the same time.”

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Figure 1: Picture taken by Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP and placed on npr.org on February 12, 2013

NPR’s Julie McCarthy describes the festival as “millions of feet shuffling, millions of mantras chanted, countless sales of firewood to ward off the night cold.  Millions of incense sticks will be burned and bells rung in devotional rituals.”  This amazing Hindu festival this year has been somewhat ruined by two incidents: a stampede on the 10th of February killed 38 people and two days of rain have flooded the entire festival.  “Uprooted tents, prolonged power cuts, and water-logged pathways” have disheartened many to the point of leaving for their own safety and to ease their frustration.  The power supply was cut to prevent short circuits and for public safety.  The Kumbh administration has begun to prepare for the massive exodus from the river by deploying hundreds of buses and security to ensure that everything runs smoothly for everyone leaving. 

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Figure 2: Picture taken by AFP and used by gulfnews.com

According to gulfnews.com, the weatherman in Allahabad is predicting more rainfall in the next week along the route of the Ganges River.  The rain so far has caused the rivers to swell reaching the 77 meter water level.  The next official bathings are on February 25th and March 10th, and officials are worried about strong currents.  The water level has risen by 14 meters in the last two days, unusually high for the season.  Also, after a release of a huge amount of water from other towns, irrigation department officials say that water could rise by 25-28 meters by the 19th of February.  

Water resources engineering is considered an interdisciplinary field involving the management of hydrologic and hydraulic systems to reduce any adverse impacts and maximize beneficial impacts.  The hydraulics issue before us is the fact that rain has ruined a great cultural festival.  But this also has many socio-economic and cultural ramifications for future festivals and even for the current one.  As infrastructure improves in India and the event staff prepares for future festivals (which happen once every three years around the country), precautions need to be taken for handling large number of people in a floodplain area.  But people must be kept safe during the current festival.  For the next two bathings, it will be very important that officials have assessed the danger of the river currents and with more rain on its way, public health and sanitation will be extremely important.  For 30 million people to show up on one day to swim in a river is not only a logistical problem, but water resources, hydraulics, and sanitation engineering problem as well. 

References:

Wurbs, R.A., James, W.P., 2002.  Water Resources Engineering. Prenctice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

 

Water Resource Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Ana Flores makes this connection here…

On February 9, 2013, BBC news reported on an article named, “Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by floods after heavy rain” This news article is related to hydrology, specifically the occurrence and distribution of water above land surface. To summarize the article, on February 8th, the countries along the Pacific Coast side of South America experienced a rain event of magnitudes seen for the first time. It was measured to be about 5 inches of rain that feel during the 7-hour storm. To put this into perspective, Peru receives an average of 1.5 inches of rain per month–that’s almost three months of rain in about seven hours! The article does a good job reporting the tragedies this event brought upon the people. There were at least six deaths reported in Peru, but the damage did not stop there. The copious amount of rain that fell caused mudslides, which contaminated two rivers that supply water to Chile’s capital. With that being said, more than four million people are being affected by this event, leaving them without drinking water and electricity. In addition, two bodies were found in a car that was buried in mud after a road collapsed. The article left out how San Jose de Maipo in Chile will be dealing with this problem. To my knowledge, floods of this magnitude are an important WRE issue. Such floods bring a lot of damage whether it is to our infrastructure or causing extensive erosion as a massive body of water flows rapidly transporting soil and sediments. The article mentions how in the previous week, Chile’s Atacam desert experienced a flash flood as well, causing similar damage. With the occurrence of these events within the past few weeks, the article failed to mention what action will be taken, if any, to aid in recovery. As a student studying to be a Water Resources Engineer, I believe it is important to take action in knowing how to respond to these meteorological events, which affect the quality, quantity, and availability of water.

This Hydrological flooding event impacts us on a global, economic, environmental and societal level. It affects us on a global and environmental broader context because according to NOAA, in recent years the average sea surface temperature has been increasing making every year seem like we are in an El Niño cycle and bringing these rain events into the eastern Pacific Coast near the Equator. As Water Resource Engineers we have to come up with solutions on how to control and distribute the increase in surface water that we have been getting and will continue to get. Likely, this impacts us economically, because if we do not come up with solutions on how to distribute this water, there is a nominal value associated with each rain event due to the infrastructure it ruins. However, how these events affect people is priceless. They are left to start from scratch and rebuild their lives having to cope with the loved ones they’ve lost.

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Figure 1. In Peru, thousands of people have been left without electricity and drinking water

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References:

“Peru, Chile and Bolivia hit by floods after heavy rain.”BBC News 02 09 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2013. <http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-        21399408>.

 Lindsey, Rebecca. “In Watching for El Niño and La Niña, NOAA Adapts to     Global Warming.”NOAA 02 05 2013, n. pag. Web. 17 Feb. 2013.         <http://www.climatewatch.noaa.gov/article/2013/in-watching-for-el-nino-and-la-nina-noaa-adapts-to-global-warming&gt;.

“Torrential rain causes flood in Peru’s 2nd-largest city; at least 6 dead, many homes swamped Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/09/torrential-rain-causes-flood-in- peru-2nd-largest-city-at-least-6-dead-many/