Category: ERE340 2015


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

The article entitled Recent rates of sedimentation on irregularly flooded Boreal Baltic coastal wetlands: Responses to recent changes in sea level from the Journal of Geomorphology published on July 15, 2014 focuses on the hydrology and sedimentation of Boreal coastal wetlands on the coast of the Baltic Sea.  The specific issue arises from increases in sea level as a result of the movement of atmospheric pressure systems and fluctuating meteorological conditions (Ward et al., 2014).  As this article is a published scientific Journal article, in addition to my engineering education, I can say that the facts presented on this topic are very accurate.  The only information that I believe may have been missing from the article is the explanation of some of the terms used, such as glacial-isostatic adjustment.

I believe that the broader context areas impacted by this issue are mostly economic and environmental.  Flooding is a natural disaster that causes significant damage on coastlines, which can cause a huge economic burden in terms of disaster relief.  In this particular study, the focus is on wetlands and how increased sedimentation due to flooding is causing progradation of the wetlands.  This negatively affects the benefit that the environment receives from the function of these wetlands.  As my main source was a Journal article, I have found an article from the World Wildlife Fund regarding how the Baltic Sea is experiencing eutrophication as a result of increased nutrients loads (World Wildlife Fund).  This could be attributed to the progradation of the wetlands to the Baltic Sea after increased sedimentation.

Figure 1. Location of the Boreal coastal wetland study sites on the Baltic coastline.


Figure 2. This image from the World Wildlife Fund shows the eutrophication of the Baltic Sea in the summer of 2005.



Ward, R., Teasdale, P., Burnside, N., Joyce, C., & Sepp, K. (2014). Recent rates of sedimentation on irregularly flooded Boreal Baltic coastal wetlands: Responses to recent changes in sea level. Geomorphology, 217, 61-72. Retrieved March 21, 2015, from ScienceDirect.

World Wildlife Fund. (n.d.). Threat of eutrophication to the Baltic Ecoregion. Retrieved March, 22, 2015, from


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Anna Poliski makes this connection by analyzing the growing demand for water supply in the country of India, specifically in the city of Chennai and what is being done to fill this demand.

The WRE news article, entitled “Quenching Chennai’s Thirst” was published in the journal Business Today on March 16th, 2014.  The article focuses on the hydraulic domain of water resource engineering specifically dealing with the distribution and quality of water. The article discusses the growing population in India and the need for a more stable water supply.  Most of the water in India is dependent upon the monsoon season to fill their reservoir, which can be an extremely unstable source.  The Indian government along with private companies decided to turn towards desalination due to the country’s vast coastline. Metro Water, the leading supplier of water to Chennai, now supplies up to 831 million liters of water per day to the city (Madhavan). Although the article seems to think that desalination is a viable and long-term solution to India’s ongoing water demand, it fails to discuss other issues in India’s water system. India’s limited reservoir storage and aging piped network infrastructure are also still current issues that reduce the efficiency of water supply (Srinivasan et al).

India is just one of the countries that is increasing in size at an alarmingly fast rate.  A growing population correlates directly to a larger demand in water supply. This is not only a global and economic issue, but an environmental issue as well. Desalination was once considered a nonconventional resource to supply potable water to several countries, but with advances in technology it is now highly plausible and affordable (Ghaffour et al). Finding a reliable, clean source of water that is both affordable and environmentally friendly will be the greatest challenge for both scientist and engineers for future generations to come.

Figure 1: Model developed by Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board



Ghaffour N, Missimer T, Amy G. Technical review and evaluation of the economics of water desalination: Current and future challenges for better water supply sustainability. Desalination[serial online]. January 15, 2013:309:197-207. Available from:Scopus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed Marh 12,2015

Madhavan N. Quenching Chennai’s Thirst. Business Today [serial online]. March 16, 2014;23(5):110-114. Available from: Business Source Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 12, 2015.

Srinivasan, V., S. M. Gorelick, and L. Goulder (2010), A hydrologic-economic modeling approach for analysis of urban water supply dynamics in Chennai, India, Water Resour. Res., 46, W07540, doi:10.1029/2009WR008693.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Kyle Magill-Jones makes this connection here about Syracuse’s aging water infrastructure and the potential to cause deadly sinkholes.

The article used for this blog is “Salina Street sinkhole may have been triggered by previous repairs nearby” written by Tim Knauss from on February 11, 2015. This WRE news relates to hydrology because it relates to the infiltration of water from the aging distribution system that is constantly requiring repairs to stop leaks or bursts. This news story talk about how the pipe broke previously and was fixed but due to the pipe leaking it caused a sinkhole when the when the car was parked on the area where the work was done. The accuracy of this story is correct based on my two sources stating the problems with Syracuse’s water infrastructure can cause sink holes. The article forgot to add how the addition of minerals such as salt, which can add to the effect of sinkholes and make them easier to form.

This problem has created huge societal problems because with these sinkholes becoming more popular it is making the public realize the severity of this problem. With people realizing this problem they are also realizing the extremely large cost that is associated with the solution. This issue has been a very popular issue brought up by local politicians because of the large amount of money that will be needed to fix the problem. “Miner’s Syracuse Billion plan focuses on water system, infrastructure improvements” goes through the process in which the mayor has put together an agenda you fix the water infrastructure if given the money from the state. With visually dangerous affects being broadcasted it causes the mayor to have to make changes and try to fix the problem with it being so dangerous.

Figure 1: car that sank into sinkhole



Cochran, Molly. “What Causes Sinkholes to Form?” AccuWeather. N.p., 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

“Miner’s Syracuse Billion Plan Focuses on Water System, Infrastructure Improvements.” Miner’s Syracuse Billion Plan Focuses on Water System, Infrastructure Improvements. N.p., 26 Nov. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

“Salt Industry in Syracuse, New York.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015., Tim Knauss |. “Salina Street Sinkhole May Have Been Triggered by Previous Repairs Nearby.” Salina Street Sinkhole May Have Been Triggered by Previous Repairs Nearby. N.p., 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015


Water Resources Engineering connects hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our Student Adam Scicchitano makes this connection here regarding the inherent uncertainty in making predictions and the real world consequences of ignoring uncertainty.

The article entitled “Who Decides?  Forecasts and Responsibilities in the 1997 Red River Flood” was reported in the Applied Behavioral Science Review in the 1999 (issue 7-2).  This paper relates to the Water Resources Engineering domain of hydrology, specifically predicting the occurrence and magnitude of floods.  The article, while not directly a current event, demonstrates what is at stake as predictions are made using hydrologic data, which is not only a current concern as spring approaches, but also something all in the WRE field should bear in mind in the future.  In summary, the article describes the Red River flood of 1997 in Grand Forks, ND. Flood evacuation decisions were made by policy makers based on a National Weather Service prediction of a 49’ river flood stage and a levee height of 51’.  What was not taken into account with this prediction was the margin of error, which would have been around 10%.  The river crested at 54’ leading to widespread devastation in Grand Fork ND on the order of $1-2 billion.  It was concluded in the aftermath of the flood that the NWS needed to better understand the uncertainty inherent in its forecasts; this information has value to decision makers. In this case misuse of a prediction lead to more damage than if there were no prediction at all.  Based on my engineering education, I believe that WRE facts presented in this article are sound.  I realize that whenever I take a measurement or produce or work with data, that that data has limitations and, especially with complex models, a slight difference in initial conditions can yield very different results.  The article did a good job at looking at what went wrong in this situation and how it might be fixed, but it failed to mention how these lessons could be translated to other predictions made using WRE data in similar situations.

Water is singularly important to everyone on earth, therefore water resources engineering by definition effects individuals, societies, economies, and environments around the planet.  As I write this I’m looking out my window at three-four feet of snow piled everywhere; this water storage will, hopefully, melt in a couple months and the stored water will then become storm water, ground water, and overland flow.  This article demonstrates how miscommunications with respect to hydrologic data can severely impact people’s lives.  Flooding takes more human lives than any other natural disaster Takeuchi (2002), therefore it is important that we as WRE professionals do the very best we can to help protect people.



Figure. 1 Downtown building destroyed by fire during the flood. Photo credit: Grand Fork Herald.


Figure. 2 “Sorlie bridge 1997”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons


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

Who Decides? Forecasts and Responsibilities in the 1997 Red River Flood. Roger A. Pielke, Jr. Applied Behavioral Science Review, 1999: 7(2), 83-101

Takeuchi, K. Floods and Society: a Never-Ending Evolutional Relation, in Flood Defence 2002, edited by B. Wu, Z. Wang, G. Wang, G. Huang, H. Fang and J. Huang, pp. 15-22, Science Press, New York Ltd, New York, 2002.


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

The new article “Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa: Best Bet for Alien Life?” reports on the possibility of water, and life, on the surface of Europa, one of Jupiter’s many orbiting moons. It was published August 22, 2014 and summarizes numerous trips and data collected through satellite imagery that expose Europa as a possible water source.  This article presents an intriguing subject of looking further than Earth for natural resources.  It deals with the efforts in WRE associated with water pumps, distribution of water, conservation of water and sustainable usage. Previous space missions such as The Galileo spacecraft and images from NASA’s Hubble space telescope have decoded images that show the terrain of Europa to have water-slurry or melted ice and water vapor through erupting plumes (R. T. Pappalard et. Al). The internal structure of the moon is modeled to be an anhydrous rocky mantle; surrounding a metallic core. Around these layers is sought to be a thick layer of ice.  Beneath this ice it is believed there is water or subsurface lakes.  These subsurface lakes are thought to have greater volumes of water than contained in total on Earth.  The erupting water vapor geysers also indicate volcanic activity; which may provide vents aiding to bacterial life (Redd , 2014).  The subject of subsurface water and bacterial life is in fact directly correlated to WRE. The information provided in this article, and the journal article from 1999, show evidence of water on the surface of Europa. Although there may be resources available for human’s on this moon, as stated in the article, it will take multiple decades and life times of research and technology advances to tap into the water available for us on Europa.  This article presents to amazing features on Europa’s surface as set in stone fact; while in reality, all the discussion on subsurface lakes and water geysers are simply predictions and are not proven.

WRE implements designs, the application of equations, monitoring, modeling, and engineered solutions to hydraulic processes and challenges in order to improve the lives of humans.  The issues evaluated under the profession of WRE deal with economics, environmental, and societal focused situations.  This article presents a subject that encompasses all three sectors of human activity. As time goes on; resources available for human use are being depleted.  It is said that when I am the age of my parents; wars will be fought over water.  As we approach this era, it is important as engineers to develop ideas of how to solve the problem of finding water resources. Europa may be a viable choice in investigating for a source of fresh water and a moon compatible for the building blocks of human life (R.T. Pappalard et. al). Missions are collaborating with donors and funding corporations to begin further investigation of Europa’s surface.  As stated in the article, it is going to take decades and life times of research to demonstrate Europa as a potential answer to human’s problem of depleting resources through sample analysis and sublayer investigations (Redd, 2014).   Although there are technologies to desalinate sea water and water filtration apparatuses to recycle used water; another possible solution is looking further than earth for a source.  WRE will be applied in obtaining the water, transporting the water, and assuring the water if a viable resource for human consumption through various quality tests. This article is an eye opener to a world of opportunity our generation must begin turning to for answers; space.



Figure 1: Model representation of Europa’s internal structure


Figure 2: Size model representation of volume of water contained on Europa vs. Earth


Figure 3: Digital art representing a model of possible sub-surface lake



Redd, Nola T.. “Jupiter’s Icy Moon Europa: Best Bet for Alien Life?” 22 August 2014. <;.

Pappalardo, R. T., et al. (1999), Does Europa have a subsurface ocean? Evaluation of the geological evidence, J. Geophys. Res., 104(E10), 24015–24055, doi:10.1029/1998JE000628.

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

The article titled “Why Are Scientists Trying to Make Fake Shark Skin?” was posted as an online article on the Smithsonian’s website on August 11, 2014. This article relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issue of water movement. In summary, the article is discussing the uses of synthetic shark skin which is a biomimicry example of shark denticles. The article expands into discussing previous applications like Speedo’s SharkSuits and other applications thanks to advances into 3-D printing and computer modeling. The article is indeed interesting while discussing the applications for synthetic shark skin. However the article does a poor job of explaining what makes shark denticles so successful in reducing drag. Through outside research, I was able to understand the denticle structure as well as how water moves over them. Denticles are flat and teeth-like and cover a shark’s body similar to scales on a fish (Figure 1). The shape and texture of the denticles vary over the shark’s body, matching the way water flows over the different parts (Dean). Denticles will actually disrupt how water flows over a shark’s body (Figure 2). Jaywant Arakeri in his work entitled “Fluid Mechanics of Fish Swimming” proves to be helpful in applying the Reynold’s number equation and explaining how different sized fish have different drag-reductions. Water resources engineering impacts our lives through many different means such as its influences on the global, economic, environmental, and societal scales. Every minute of every day, millions of people are relying on hydrologic and hydraulic systems for their needs. Synthetic shark skin can prove to be an essential element in our lives through its applications like anti-microbial door handles and swimsuits. Research is currently underway to work towards using synthetic shark skin as a defense against biofouling on ship hulls. Currently, anti-fouling paint is toxic and using shark skin would be an environmentally-friendly option (Thompson). The possibilities for advances in underwater robot design could also prove to be valuable for our future world. Using synthetic shark skin, these underwater robots could have more flexible bodies whose motions could resemble a real fish. Airplane wings might even be able to be designed to be more energy-efficient if synthetic shark skin can be utilized. And then in the biological spectrum, through research with denticles, scientist are learning even more in regards to the swimming forces of sharks and other fish. George Jeronimidis was even quoted in Thompson’s article saying it’s currently a rapidly growing field and that “we are just beginning to understand how integrated and functional the skin of marine creatures is.” Through advances in technologies, our world can learn how to perfect their synthetic shark skin and apply its many uses of anti-microbial and drag reduction to help each of us in our daily activities.



Figure 1: A close-up of a shark’s denticles showing their shape, arrangement, and proximity to one another.


Figure 2: Because of a shark’s denticles bristling and their alignment, water is able to smoothly flow over the shark’s surface instead of creating eddies and vortices that cause drag and friction.



Arakeri, Jaywant H. “Fluid Mechanics of Fish Swimming.” Resonance 14.1 (2009): 32-46. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. Dean, Brian, and Bharat Bhushan. “Shark-Skin Surfaces for Fluid-drag Reduction in Turbulent Flow: A Review.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 368.1929(2010): 4775-806. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Saltarin, Alexander. “3D-printed Shark Skin Demonstrates How Denticles Boost Swimming Speed.” Tech Times RSS. Tech Times, 15 May 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. Schleck, Dave. “Speedo Suit Helps Athletes Swim Like Sharks.” Daily Press (Newport News, VA) (n.d.): Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

Thompson, Helen. “Why Are Scientists Trying To Make Fake Shark Skin?” Smithsonian. Smithsonian, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.

Wen, Li, James C. Weaver, and George V. Lauder. “Biomimetic Shark Skin: Design, Fabrication, and Hydrodynamic Function.” The Company of Biologists Ltd 217 (2014): 1656-666. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.


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

On March 6, 2013 The New York Times reported the article, “Proposed Dam Presents Economic and Environmental Challenges in Alaska” on their online site. The news encompasses the WRE domain of Hydrology and Hydraulics, particularly related to dams and their impacts. This article goes into detail about the debate currently taking place in the state of Alaska over the installation of a hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River. The high price of power for Alaskans raises the debate over which energy production methods should be implicated in order to create the most beneficial outcome for the state, its residence, and its wildlife. This article implies that the choice between utilization of the state’s natural gas resources and construction of the dam on the Susitna will be a difficult one to make. Currently, the Alaskan Energy Authority is conducting and reviewing studies for the project and will soon ask for a license to build the dam from the Federal Energy Regulation Commission. Using the following research citations and my engineering education, my informed opinion on the accuracy of the WRE facts presented by The New York Times in this article are accurate. Levin and Tolimieri (2001) reinforced the adverse hydrologic impacts created by dams on salmonids and riverine ecosystems. Berkun (2010) puts hydroelectric potential in perspective in terms of water resources availability, as well as potential negative impacts and the importance of studying them. Based on critically thinking through the information provided by this article, I believe that it has missed the opportunity to use historically similar events to support each argument. Analyzing similar scenarios where hydropower was implicated over alternative methods could have provided insight on the rational for the dam and potential positive and negative outcomes that have already been seen. More consideration using case studies from previously constructed dams would aid in the decision of Alaska’s energy future.

The hydrologic and hydraulic applications of water resources engineering shape the economic, environmental, and social impacts of water on a local and global scale. The Susitna dam deals with all three of these WRE context areas. Environmental impacts, economic feasibility and return, and public of opinion and land use will all be impacted by the decision to construct the dam or not. Alteration to the natural river flow, blockage of upstream passage, warming water temperatures, and lack of sediment and nutrient flow will all affect the five species of pacific salmon that spawn in the Susitna. The reservoir created behind the dam will also lead to massive habitat loses for terrestrial animals and can create greenhouse gas emissions. Damming the river will create a large amount of clean power for Alaskans, but the initial investment is high, thus offsetting savings. The dam could also create recreational opportunities behind the reservoir, but alter fishing and recreation elsewhere. Public opinion also varies between those who support hydroelectric or natural gas and also those who believe which alternative is best to keep the land natural and pristine. Based on this article, the social and economic benefits of the Susitna dam will need to outweigh the adverse environmental impacts caused by the dam in order for it to be an option for energy production. The positives and negatives of hydroelectric power generation are reported by Von Sperling (2012), who explains how hydropower fits into today’s global energy needs. However, Von Sperling (2012) emphasizes that the benefits of hydropower should outweigh the environmental effects when considering implementation of each hydroelectric dam project. The cause-effect between construction of the Susitna dam and the environmental, social, and economic impacts is that hydroelectric power will provide a large amount of the energy needed in the state of Alaska while adverse environmental conditions are inevitable and potential irreversible.


Figure 1: An artist’s rendition of the proposed hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River. Studies are being conducted to determine the fate of the project based on the benefits and negative impacts.


Figure 2: Before and after pictures of Yosemite Nation Park’s Hetch Hetchy valley. The need for water in San Francisco called for construction of the reservoir and altered the Tuolumne River.




Berkun, M. Hydroelectric potential and environmental effects of multidam hydropower projects in Turkey. Energy for Sustainable Development. 2010; 14(4), 320–329. doi:10.1016/j.esd.2010.09.003

Levin, P. S., & Tolimieri, N. Differences in the impacts of dams on the dynamics of salmon populations. Animal Conservation. 2001; 4(4), 291–299. doi:10.1017/S1367943001001342

Von Sperling, E. Hydropower in Brazil: Overview of Positive and Negative Environmental Aspects. Energy Procedia. 2012; 18, 110–118. doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2012.05.023

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

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Haley Canham, makes this connection here with the Minute 319 agreement between the US and Mexico concerning water management of the Colorado River in times of drought.

The article, Dynamic Delta: Policies, Partnerships, and water for the Colorado River Delta by Karen Schlatter from the Water Resources Impact Journal was published in September of 2013. The article concerns both the hydraulic aspect of dam water management and the hydrology aspect on the ecological benefits as a result of restored river flow. The story dealt with the movement of water and the effects of the restored flow on the ecosystem. Due to withdrawals from the river for agriculture use and damming the Colorado River has not reached the sea since the 1960s. The article explains the expected effects of the release of 130 million cubic meters of water from the Morelos dam, part of the Minute 319 agreement. The article focused heavily on the ecology of the delta and the restoration that the released pulse of water would have on the delta. The WRE facts in the article do seem to be accurate. Occasional El Nino effects bring heavy rain to the region and the effect on the delta can be seen. Water reuse and constructed wetlands for wastewater filtration on the delta are referred to in the article as a way to restore the delta. Both accurately reflect WRE and the effects that restored flow would bring to the delta. More information on the effects of the volume of water in the 70 miles of river bed to the delta would be important information for determining the effectiveness of the released water pulse.

The issue has numerous effects including environmental, economic, societal, and global. Environmentally, the restoration of the delta would bring back large diversity and life to the delta. Many people have historically depended on the river and the delta for social and economic aspects. The restoration of the delta would also restore important fisheries, an important local economic source. Finally, the agreement between the US and Mexico and the released pulse flow have set an example for other countries and rivers that no longer reach the sea. The pulse flow has already impacted the delta through water reaching the sea for the first time since the 1960s for an extended period of time. The release was timed to coincide with plant seed production. The delta has seen a positive effect as a result of the pulse flow. Another article, The Colorado River by Jackson Reed from the Water Resources Impact Journal published September 2013, also addresses this issue. The released pulse flow has had a positive impact on the Colorado River Delta and provides important data for future restoration efforts.


Figure 1-The Colorado River Delta during the pulse flow, March 2013, source: National Geographic

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Howard, B., (March 22, 2014). Historic “Pulse Flow” Brings Water to Parched Colorado River Delta, National Geographic News.

Jackson, R. (September 2013). The Colorado River. Water Resources Impact, 15 (5) 1.

Schlatter, K., (September 2013). Dynamic Delta: Policies, Partnerships, and water for the Colorado River Delta. Water Resources Impact, 15 (5) 3-5.

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

The news article entitled, “Department of Environmental Protection Institutes First of its Kind Modeling System for Reservoir Management” was reported by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection agency in their January 17, 2014 online newsletter (Bosch et al. 2014). The news relates to the WRE domain of hydrology and the specific issues of reservoir management and water quality. In summary, this news article reports on a new water management system developed by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve the quality of the water that the DEP sends to New York City and also how it helps to manage the water levels in all of the NYC water supply reservoirs. The bureau of water supply developed the operations support tool (OST) to more precisely predict future reservoir levels throughout the Catskill watersheds. The OST system is a very advanced computer modeling system, where future water supply levels and water quality predictions are based on several factors including; water quality measurements, turbidity measurements, current water demand, stream flows, snow pack measurements, weather forecasting, and several other factors (Bosch et al. 2014). The news article says that previous operations were simply based on current water demand, current reservoir levels, and historical records (Bosch et al. 2014). But the OST system gathers real-time data from hundreds of stream flow gauges, rainfall gauges, devices that measure the water content of snowpack, and from advanced water quality testing buoys in the reservoirs (Bosch et al. 2014). OST also allows the DEP to test different operational decisions to project how each would affect the water supply system in the months ahead. For instance, if DEP chose to divert 300 million gallons a day from one of its reservoir systems instead of 500 million gallons, OST can project how that decision and dozens of others will affect system storage, water quality, required releases, and more (Bosch et al. 2014). According to the article, “By incorporating the OST system we can continue to supply nearly half the state’s population with the highest-quality drinking water while respecting the needs and desires of those that live in and around the watersheds” (Bosch et al. 2014).

Based on my engineering education my informed opinion is the WRE facts in the news are accurate, as I show with the following research citations. According to an article published by the National Wildlife Federation (Pumphrey et al. 2012), the degree of snowpack has an affect on the reservoir levels in the Sierra Nevada’s throughout the entire summer months. This information is also relevant to the reservoirs in the Catskills; therefore, it is important to be able to predict these influxes of water into the reservoirs months in advance based on the water content of the snow packs. Research done by the USGS (Lumia et al. 2013) over a 10-year study on the supply and demand for water throughout New York State concludes that the supply and demand for water is highly inconsistent. This research supports the modeling of water supply and demand for current weather conditions such as the NYC DEP has done with the OST system. Based on critical thinking on this news story, I think the article has missed reporting important information on how accurately this system actually is. They also failed to say how accurate the snow-pack, water quality, forecasting, and other measurement devices are and how many of them are implemented throughout the watersheds.

Water resources engineering influences global, economic, environmental, and societal context areas because it is an interdisciplinary field that manages hydrologic and hydraulic systems at many scales to efficiently deliver services for many users. I have identified the broader WRE context area of how society in NYC and its water supply reservoirs are impacted by the OST system. These broader context areas are defined as followed: the societal context typically relates to human relationships, such as those between people and their government, as in the case with NYC residents and the DEP. Based on the article, the OST system will help the DEP provide a clean, safe, and reliable source of drinking water to the residents of NYC, thus benefiting society. I found that the relationship between the DEP and the residents of NYC has not always been a mutual relationship as reported by Freedman (Freedman et al. 2013), who described how previous water shortages in NYC have led to complaints by its residents. Freedman reports that while there have been reasonably wet seasons as of the last decade; in the 1970’s there were many problems with the water supply. He fears that there could again be a similar situation if New York experienced drought conditions and since the population has increased substantially since those times (Freedman et al. 2013). The cause-effect between a water shortage and the NYC society is as follows – with severe drought conditions, the prices for water could go up and limits on residential water meters may be applied. This would have a negative effect between society and the NYC DEP and it speaks to the importance of a system like OST.


Figure 1 – The Ashokan Reservoir dividing weir during normal reservoir levels in 2005, Source – NYC DEP

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Figure 2 – Ashokan Reservoir dividing weir during drought conditions in 1972,  Source – NYC DEP

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Figure 3 – Ashokan Reservoir dividing weir during a high turbidity event in 2008, Source – NYC DEP

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Bosch, Adam. “Department of Environmental Protection Institutes First of Its Kind

Modeling System for Reservoir Management.” DEP Institutes First of Its Kind Modeling System for Reservoir Management. NYC DEP, 17 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Freedman, Andrew. “Wet Times Are Masking New York’s Real Drought Risk | Climate

Central.” Wet Times Are Masking New York’s Real Drought Risk | Climate Central. Climate Central, 28 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Lumia, Deborah. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Has Been Publishing Estimates Of

Water Use Every Five Years Since, 1950 In The “Estimated Use Of Water In The United States” Circular Series. In 1978, The Congress Expanded, The Water-Use Activities Of The USGS By Establishing The National Water-Use Information Program, and (Nwuip). The Water-Use Program In New York Is Part of The Nwuip And Is Based On A Cooperative. “New York Water Use Program and Data, 200-2010.” NEW YORK WATER-USE PROGRAM AND DATA, 2000 (n.d.): n. pag. USGS Science for a Changing World. USGS, 2013. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

Pumphrey, Pete. “Declining Snow Pack Impacts Reservoir Levels.” National Wildlife

Federation 1st ser. 3.1 (2012): 14-15. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.

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

The news entitled, “Pumping Draws Arsenic Toward Big-City Aquifer” was reported by The Earth Institute at Columbia University on September 11, 2013.  The news relates the WRE domains of both hydrology and hydraulics in the sense of water quality and in the mechanisms of ground water movement, respectively.  In summary, this article discusses the discovery of the first “clean” aquifer to become contaminated and the possibility that it is due to an increase in ground water pumping.  The field scientists used Helium and Hydrogen dating techniques to track the movement of the arsenic as well as the water from the originally contaminated aquifer.  The study found that the arsenic is moving at a much slower rate than the water; this offers hope that there is still enough time to find a filtering solution before the arsenic reaches an aquifer that supplies Hanoi.  Based on my engineering education and the following sources, my informed opinion is that the facts in the article are accurate.  Motzer (2007) discusses the dating of ground water using Helium and Hydrogen and states that is accurate up to 30 years but can be used until 50 year dating, so an estimate of 40-60 years of groundwater movement is within reason.  However, further studies should be done in areas where the water is closer to the source (thus younger) to compare to the estimated age of water farther along the path.  The World Health Organization (2001) also recognizes the presence of arsenic in drinking water in Southeast Asia and acknowledges the effects it is having on health in the area, which supports the articles claim that adverse health effects are traveling with this water.  Based on critical thinking on this news story, I think some key information was left out on the current distribution of arsenic along the path from the polluted aquifer to the “clean” aquifer that Hanoi relies on beyond saying that a once uncontaminated aquifer has become contaminated.  The movement of arsenic is occurring, but determining where and how fast it will go is a difficult task.

Water resources engineering is an interdisciplinary discipline that involves global, environmental, political, economic and societal matters.  The issues discussed in the article have ties to political and societal problems.  The arsenic pollution is in the Southeast of Asia which encompasses many nations, so control and filtering of the water will most likely result in collaboration (or lack thereof) during the journey to finding a solution.  Arsenic is a carcinogen and can also cause other adverse health effects from exposure which creates the societal problem of having an essentially poisoned population who has no other option but to continue drinking the contaminated water.  An entry in the Encyclopedia of the Earth (2014) also discusses the societal impact of water pollution and states that approximately 50 million deaths occur annually across the world from water pollution.  The cause-effect of arsenic water pollution is as follows – the population will consume contaminated water, become ill or chronically sick which will affect their productivity and overall health and happiness of the society.


Figure 1- The Red River is colored by the sediments being carried from the Himalayan Plateau and is full of organic carbons which influence the release of arsenic into the groundwater.


Hogan, C. (2014, November 17). Water pollution. Retrieved January 28, 2015, from

Motzer, W. (n.d.). Age Dating Groundwater. Retrieved January 28, 2015, from

Water-related diseases. (2001, May 1). Retrieved January 28, 2015, from