Category: ERE340 2017

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Collin Borzell makes this connection in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This current event was reported in The Atlantic, on August 4th, 2016, under the title, A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem, by Olga Khazan. This article is likely to be real, due to the proven benefits of digesters around the world and proven success.

The city of Rio has historically had poor waste management, causing a substantial source of pollution that is transferred to the lagoon Marapendi. Due to the upcoming Olympics which will take place in that very lagoon, increased attention is being drawn to sewage. This article about bio digesters relates directly to WRE in the area of wastewater engineering. This project has several humanitarian and small scale designs benefits, proving another successful implementation. With the Rio Olympics being a national event and wastewater being a genuine concern, this project has received attention, hopefully leading to the propagation of wastewater treatment. Although this article lacks technical descriptions, it still acts as a nice project over view.

Figure 1: Vale Encantado Bio Digester

This project has a major economic benefit over traditional sewage treatment, by being about one sixth the cost. Although this is a reduced cost to other alternatives, it is still far greater than the current dumping method. This digester project has direct environmental impacts by treating wastewater which otherwise would have gone directly into receiving water. Social impacts include spreading awareness for the problems but also providing a solution. Space is in huge demand in the favelas of Rio, and unfortunately this system takes up the space of about on house, making it difficult to place (figure 1). There is also concern for prolonged community participation in upkeep and maintenance. Although this will increase the effort required by communities it will still have several environmental benefits.


Khazan O. The Cheap, Easy Fix to the Olympics’ Sewage Problem. The Atlantic. 2016. Accessed May 11, 2017.

“University Of Wisconsin”. N.p., 2010. Web. 11 May 2017.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Gus Walker makes this connection in Los Angeles, California. This current event was reported in Los Angeles Times, on April 17th 2017 under the title, “One key way soggy California could save water for the next dry spell”, by Bettina Boxall. This is likely real news, based on independent reporting on this event at here.

The story about unorthodox ways to replenish aquifers relates to water resources engineering, in the specific disciplines of hydrology and resource management. The main message of the article is the importance of ground water recharge to the San Joaquin Valley aquifer to ensure future water availability. The San Joaquin Valley aquifer has been pumped for over a century and this has causes a dramatic drop in water table levels, especially over the last 5 years’ drought period. The recharge of this massive aquifer could be the key to solving California’s cyclic water cycle. Dry southern California’s water system greatly depends on the climate in the wetter northern zones. During massive spring runoff events, there is often an excess of water that gets sent down stream and not stored for the drier season. Don Cameron, a vineyard owner, thinks the solution to the water crisis is recharge of the massive and depleted San Joaquin Valley aquifer. He witnessed that his grape harvest was not adversely effected by his fields being flooded with water for a month in the early spring. By letting the water sit in the fields for an extended period it allows for infiltration and percolation of that water into the aquifer. However, I do think the author overlooked some important details in the applicability of this concept. I believe further research would have to be done to test soils to ensure the water will mostly make it to the deep saturated zones of the soils versus being transported to rivers and carried downstream. Also by spreading this water out over large areas the rate of evapotranspiration will likely increase and be mistaken for recharge.

Figure 1. Sinking of ground from May 2015 to Sept 2016 due to groundwater pumping

The importance of groundwater recharge in this area of the world can be seen though an economic, environmental and social lens. If this method is proven to be viable and effective if has the potential to dramatically improve California’s water management issues. At certain times of the year in southern California the price of water is high due to the shortages in the whole state. This puts economic stress on the people who consume water and the government to spend money on storage systems to store water for these times. The environmental impacts of not recharging the aquifer can be devastating. By drawing down the water table and never replenishing it ecosystems won’t function in the same way. An example of this was showed by a recent NASA study that shows the San Joaquin Valley is sinking due to groundwater pumping with no recharge. The ground is sinking up to 24 inches in some places as shown in figure 1 (NASA 2017).  And that water won’t be there for irrigation of crops in the future.  The societal impacts of not having adequate water storage are endless. The article stated that if farmers in the valley don’t take ground water recharge into consideration they may not have water to grown craps at all in the future. If don is right then that would mean many wineries would be forced to close due to having no crops.


Alan Buis, NASA Data Shows California’s San Joaquin Valley Still Sinking. March 1, 2017.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Erica Van Althuis makes this connection in Mumbai, India. This current event was reported in Bloomberg, on April 5, 2017, under the title, “Failed Winter Rains, Looming El Nino Challenge India’s Factories” by Archani Chaudhary. The droughts in India have also been covered by several other sources, including Richard Mahapatra in Down to Earth magazine, which describes how poor policies and increasingly extreme weather patterns have caused parts of India to experience the worst droughts recorded.

These lowered reservoir levels have decreased not only due to less rainfall, but because of poor agricultural and water conservation practices, this then leads to less water flowing into reservoirs and cities, causing water resource engineering problems both in watershed and soil areas. Water scarcity in Maharashtra is a regular pattern now, as the area has not seen regular amounts of rainfall since 2013 (Chaudhary, 2017), indicating that this is an issue that needs to be solved, not a one or two-year drought that is going to pass. While Chaudhary states that climbing temperatures and decreased rainfall have dropped reservoir levels, it was not indicated when rainfall can be expected and how much more the reservoir levels are supposed to drop before that happens.

Figure 1 – Farmers stand in a field of dried sugar cane (Mahapatra)

The lowered reservoirs impact the well-being of industries, society, and the environment in the surrounding areas, as these three sectors begin to compete for water. Many factories in Mumbai and in the rest of the Maharashtra region are fearing that lack of water will leave them unable to produce, and that they’ll have to pull out of the region (Chaudhary). This will increase unemployment and cause the economy to decline. The reservoirs are suffering not only because of lack of rain, but due to the increased growing of sugar cane, which consumes approximately five times as much water as maize and moong, which were commonly grown previously (Mahapatra, 2016). This degrading of the soil has led to less water flowing into the reservoirs, making droughts more impactful on areas that depend on those reservoirs (Mahapatra, 2016). Last year, when similar droughts occurred, several disputes between states erupted over river sharing and water resources causing political unrest and decreased welfare in the affected areas (Chaudhary). Water conservation needs to improve in both agricultural and urban areas if India’s water crisis continues to worse, waste water engineers will need to innovate new ways to improve water usage.


Chaudhary, Archana. “Failed Winter Rains, Looming El Nino Challenge India’s Factories”. N.p., 2017. Web. 20 Apr. 2017.

Maharapatra, Richard. It is Not a Drought. Down To Earth [serial online]. May 2016;24(24):20­23. Available from: Environment Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed April 20, 2017.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Ben Taylor makes this connection in London, United Kingdom. This current event was reported in The Guardian, on September 14th, 2016, under the title, “Increased drought could see Londoners queueing for water,” by Fiona Harvey1. This is likely an accurate depiction of a London current issue as Eddie Buckle with Bloomberg reported on this same issue in March of 20162.

London, UK, is in a potentially difficult situation with water distribution, based on their increasing population (see Figure 1.). From the source of the water to the faucet, this is a challenge in WRE. Solutions will have to integrate WRE concepts of pipe networks, flow, scour, and treatment. This is important news for WRE because the potential water shortages in London is evidence that water problems are not bound to developing nations. Many times, we think that water distribution issues or shortage is not a problem in cities or areas that have been “westernized”, but this is not true. We must continue to study and invest in our modern water distribution systems to ensure public health and wellness. This report in The Guardian doesn’t address personal responsibility that Londoners should feel in the water saving efforts. It focuses on the actions Thames Water, the private water distributors, but fails to appeal to the reader in how we can help with delaying or avoiding this potential water shortage.

Figure 1. London’s historic and projected population

This potential water shortage problem has effects in the economic, environmental, and social realms of London and the surrounding areas. Water is a center point of human well-being. Financially, a water shortage would be devastating. I would speculate that Parliament would step in and intervene in the processes of Thames Water to update infrastructure and increase the water storage. This will likely cost millions of dollars, which would be passed on to taxpayers. Any disruptions in water service will have impacts on local businesses, and may cause some to move based on concerns. This water shortage also relates to environmental issues. New reservoirs or infrastructure construction would impact the landscape, whether through digging or building. Finally, this WRE issue feeds into societal issues. One of the largest societal issue is the public concern around potential solutions. It has been suggested that treated sewage be reintroduced to the Thames river, and then retreated for drinking3. BBC reports that “many Londoners were unhappy at the idea of drinking waste water3.” Mancosu et al. took a look at water scarcity issues in 2014, in terms of agriculture. They concluded that “The correlation between the expected increase in irrigation water requirements, critical values of renewable freshwater resources and economic water scarcity, indicates the necessity for regional policy coordination and careful water management strategies at the national and site levels4.” This is a clear correlation between water shortage and the effects on society through policy and government. With proper management of the water levels and solutions in London, I am confident that a catastrophe will be avoided and Londoners will continue to live with access to clean water.


  1. Harvey, Fiona. Increased drought could see Londoners queueing for water. The Guardian. 14 September 2016.
  2. Buckle, Eddie. Growing London Faces Water Shortages and Overflowing Sewage. Bloomberg. 8 March 2016.
  3. London ‘could drink treated sewage’- Thames Water. 10 May 2013.
  4. Mancosu N, Snyder R, Kyriakakis G, Spano D. Water Scarcity and Future Challenges for Food Production. Water 2015, 7, 975-992; doi: 10.3390/w7030975. 10 March 2015.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Shaimus Ryan, makes this connection in Tehran, Iran. This current event was reported in the Tehran Times on May 7, 2016, under the title, “Water Crisis in Iran: A Desperate Call for Action” by Kaveh Madani. In addition, this water crisis has also been recognized and reported on by Western publications such as the Washington Post, which ran an article titled “Iran’s Water Crisis the Product of Decades of Bad Planning.”

In Iran, it is becoming more and more difficult to supply the country’s population of around 78 million people with water. As Kaveh Madani explains, this has several root causes. However, it is closely linked to the water resource engineering practices that have been used in Iran for the last couple of decades. While Iran once invested heavily in sustainable water management, its efforts have changed to simply treating immediate problems, as opposed to planning for the future. This has now resulted in a constant need for new solutions to treat the symptoms of the underlying problems. These underlying problems have their roots in bad water management solutions, particularly when it comes to agriculture. In Iran, 92 percent of all water is consumed by agriculture (Madani). Due to Iran’s large population, and its more isolated economy, food security is very important, as the country must produce much of its own food. However, the farms that produce this food are inefficient when it comes to water usage. Many of these farms exist in rural areas, and rely on groundwater due to a hot climate with unreliable precipitation. Much of this farmland is in need of investment in water resource engineering techniques to boost water efficiency. Currently, the irrigation efficiency is only 35%, with only 5% under pressured irrigation (Madani).

Figure 1. Water Crisis In Iran

Agricultural problems are not the only drivers of Iran’s water crisis, however. The drivers of this crisis include problems with the economics surrounding water management as well. In addition, many environmental and societal factors are contributing to this problem. The increasing size of Iran’s largest metropolis, Tehran, is an indication of how societal factors are magnifying the water crisis. Tehran, home to 14 million people, has grown in recent decades with the large migration of Iran’s population to cities. In addition, increasing the population growth rate of Iran is both the official policy and cultural tradition of the nation. With so many people relying on the surrounding country for their supply of water, Iran’s limited water resources are being stretched to their maximum. To help mitigate this problem of water usage, several economic solutions have been proposed. For example, the author of the referenced article, Kaveh Madani, suggests increasing the cost of water, so as to lower its usage, and creating a water market, in order to increase the economic efficiency of water in Iran. In addition, he suggests more investment in the rural communities which use water for agriculture. Finally, it has been suggested that climate change may be worsening the water crisis in Iran. While this is uncertain, it is easy to see how other environmental factors come into play in Iran. While Iran has twice the world’s average of water usage, it only has one third of the world’s average in precipitation. In addition, many of the most populated places in Iran, such as the Tehran metropolis, are without their own regional water resources, and rely on the transport of water from other regions to survive. One of the greatest dangers to Iran at the moment is the potential depletion of its groundwater resources, which the Iranian people currently rely on. Should this happen, we would see a human catastrophe in Iran, particularly in its densely- populated capital. The future of Iran now relies on a combination of proper governance of its water resources and the implementation of water resource engineering.


Rezaian, Jason. “Iran’s water crisis the product of decades of bad planning.” The New York Times (2014).

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Ryan Ruggiero makes this connection in Shenzhen. This current event was reported in The Diplomat, on September 16th, 2015, under the title, One Chinese City’s Struggle With Water Scarcity, by Coco Liu. If you don’t believe me or Coco Liu, check out this article, Water Pollution and Degradation in Pearl River Delta, South China, published in the Journal of the Human Environment, know as AMBIO. This article is a review of the water pollution and degradation of the Pearl River delta, which encompasses Shenzhen. The issue being discussed in the news article is water scarcity, which is considered and examined in this article as ‘degradation volume’ pollution.

This article reviews the current solutions to the water scarcity/water pollution issues that Shenzhen is facing along with what the city hopes to implement in the future to improve the situation further. The city has taken action to install green infrastructure and practice overall good water resource management methods to help with the issue at hand, water scarcity. Water scarcity in Shenzhen is currently being solved by importing water/diverting a river, both being energy, environmentally and economically taxing. The reuse of the cities gray and wastewater into a usable, reclaimed gray water is a step in the right direction with respect to capture of the resource that would otherwise be discharged to the many waterways passing through the city. The main green infrastructure the city is currently taking advantage of is pours land cover types, including pours pavement, rain gardens (with flood tolerant vegetation) and wetlands. Most of the areas with these land cover types are bounded below by catchment structures that allow for the storage and usage of what would otherwise be surface discharge and originally subsurface discharge into the polluted waterways of the city. Capture at a point in the hydrologic cycle ‘upstream’ from stream flow reduces the work required in obtaining usable water for the city, even with the infrastructure required for the large underground basins and surface cover materials (Liu, 2015). The city has also given citizens incentives to use less water by increasing prices when a usage threshold is exceeded (Liu, 2015). This article clearly expresses the issues Shenzhen, and more likely than not, other mega and non-mega cities either currently or in the future will face with the increasing stress climate change puts on ever growing urban development. The measures taken in Shenzhen could be used in other developing or current cities to prevent the water scarcity problem/remedy an existing issue, respectively. This article however lacks the numerical information with respect to the improvement of water reclamation green infrastructure is able to provide during the cities wet season, which up until their installment, precipitation has gone directly into the cities polluted waterways. This would of given some insight to the effectiveness of the cities efforts, which in the past have been lavish yet to no avail (Huifeng, 2014).

This article takes consideration to all three facets of WRE issues—it is important to address these issues in any modern city. Shenzhen is a large metropolis that must be mindful of environmental impacts resulting from urbanization, which will ultimately benefit the cities intrinsic goals to be both economically and socially feasible. The environmental issue regarding Shenzhen’s water scarcity is closely related to climate change and pollution of the rivers: droughts cause waterways to become seasonal, while established waterways are some of the dirtiest in Southern China (Huifeng, 2014). One solution, that currently provides water for 70% of the city, is the diversion of the Dongjiang River. The river north of the city is diverted into 17 tunnels and pumped up to storage tanks; elevation wise, it is kept above the city, where it is treated and divided among its citizens. The economic issue in relation to Shenzhen’s water scarcity is the energy requirement for the pumps that the diversion project depends on. The providences power company stated that the diversion project was one of the major energy consumers that they supply (Liu, 2015). The providence’s provider uses coal to generate the electricity it provides, contributing to the economic and additional environmental burden this issue it puts on the city (Liu, 2015 and Zhou, 2014). To combat the cities dependence on the diversion project, the city is starting to require the recycling of gray and wastewater. Overcoming the idea of using the reused water poses a vast societal issue for the city, where the fear of improper separation from the drinking water supply is overbearing for many. Zhou in 2014 showed that water pumping was one of the major players in Shenzhen’s energy consumption while also outlining the indirect environmental degradation as a result of the pumping requirements. The study is concerned with planning and managing the cities energy generation and usage, which if executed properly would benefit the economic and social issues as well.

Figure 1. Shenzhen River depicted here at one its most polluted States

Shenzhen is a growing city that has pollution based water scarcity issue because of its metropolis existence. Without remedy of the natural waterways, which are of extremely low quality, the issues with relation to water scarcity may be resolved, but not without compromise to the social and economic issues that are rooted in the scarcity issue. This is why it is so important to resolve the underlying environmental problem because usually it is a cause of a multitude of issues. WRE encompasses the 3 aspects it does because it makes sense to take all 3 into consideration when designing and managing a solution to the original problem. By Shenzhen solving its water scarcity issue with only the diverting the Dongjiang River, economically this burden would become an issue for the city, not to mention any social issues that might arise when the Dongjiang is unable to supply its original users and the megacity.

Huifeng, H. (2014, September 19). Shenzhen is losing its fight against pollution in main rivers. Received April 17, 2017.

Zhou, Y., Li, Y., & Huang, G. (2014). Integrated modeling approach for sustainable             municipal energy system planning and management – A case study of  Shenzhen, China.Journal of Cleaner Production,75, 143-156.

Liu, C. (2015, September 16). One Chinese City’s Struggle With Water Scarcity. Retrieved April 17, 2017.

Z. Zhu, Q. Deng, H. Zhou, T. Ouyang. (2002). Water Pollution and Degradation in                              Pearl River Delta, South China. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment, 31(3), 226-230.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues.  Our student Geoffrey Golick makes this connection in Shanghai, China.  This current event was reported by the English-language China News Service (ECNS) online news on April 13th, 2017, under the title, “Shanghai lacking in environmental protection, inspectors find” by Feng Shuang.  This is likely real news, based on the many sources stating Shanghai’s poor water quality and pollution problems, including a news article on NASDAQ’s online news service.

This news article relates to water resources engineering in the specific area of water distribution systems and their performance criteria.  The focus of the article deals with the extreme pollution conditions that are present in Shanghai, and the lack of law enforcement patrolling the polluters.  In 2013, 800 companies were ordered by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to stop production due to excessive pollution, and are still running today.  Water quality in Shanghai has not been getting better, but has been worsening since 2013.  Out of 259 water samples tested, 88 were deemed unfit to be used even for irrigation or industrial purposes, let alone potable water.  This is important news for water resources engineering because it is the job of the engineers and scientists to treat the water.  At a certain point, having regulations on emissions just is not enough, especially when the regulations are not being met.  Water treatment plants need to be designed by engineers to help produce suitable water for the people of Shanghai to drink.  What is missing from the article is the status of current water treatment plants that are in Shanghai, and the quality of water that is coming from them.  Also, the condition of the water distribution pipe network in Shanghai is not noted in the article.

Figure 1: The Huangpu River through downtown Shanghai

The water quality issues in Shanghai has significant impacts environmentally, socially, and economically.  First, to treat the raw water in the Huangpu River (Fig. 1) in Shanghai, there needs to be funding.  It is expensive to put water through all the treatment processes of that it goes through in a water treatment plant.  Shanghai is one of the richest cities in China by gross domestic product, and, in recent years, they have been putting money into treating the water coming from the river.  However, the factories are still not being regulated by law enforcement and continue to dump chemicals into the river, along with raw sewage being discharged into the river.  Clearly, this is a large environmental concern.  The Huangpu River is one of the most polluted rivers in the world, and it serves as the main source of drinking water for a great many people living in one of the largest cities in the world.  While residents of Shanghai can drink the tap water by using a filter attached to their faucet, it is not recommended for anyone from a developed country to drink any tap water in Shanghai.  This causes social issues as well.  The wealthy can afford to have bottled water, a filter on their tap, or even cleanlier distribution systems.  The poor people of Shanghai are forced to drink only what they have available to them.  The poor quality of tap water in Shanghai was also reported by Yao et. al. (2015) who studied six different inorganic anions present in water samples from Shanghai taps.  Yao et. al. (2015) found through their studies that tap water in most districts of Shanghai is polluted with inorganic anions, and that the phosphorous pollution in Shanghai is especially serious.  The cause-effect relationship between water pollution and its impact to society happens when the high concentration of contaminants begins to cause ailments in the people drinking the water, making the water quality detrimental to the health of the people.


Yao, D., Zhang, K., Wang, C., Zhu, L. (2015) The Analysis on the Evaluation of Shanghai Tap Water Quality in Terms of Inorganic Anion Concentration. Shanghai, China: Shanghai Normal University.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Jessica Emmerson, makes this connection in Istanbul, Turkey. This current event was reported in Information Technology Newsweekly, on April 4th, 2017, under the title, “Investigators from Istanbul University Release New Data on Information and Data Systems [Prediction Of Water Consumption In Istanbul By Means Of Statistical Forecasting Models & Geographic Information Systems (gis)”.This is a reliable news source based on the fact that it is based on research done by Istanbul University and the research is also referenced in “Istanbul : the challenges of integrated water resources management in Europa’s megacity”, an article from the journal, Environ Dev Sustain.

Figure1. Scenic downtown Istanbul, a relatively dense city of Turkey

The completion of the research by Istanbul University marks a very important moment in the way water infrastructure projects are viewed in the megacity and surrounding areas. Drinking water consumption is a constraint on water system designs that was not, until now, effectively modeled. “As such, effective investment can be considered and supported” (Information Technology Weekly). This is important in developing sustainable and successful infrastructure investments for the city. The report of the research completion may have been more informative if it included a broad overview of the results for the city.

Figure2. The breathtaking coast line of The Turkish Capitol City of Istanbul

In the water consumption area of WRE, the nexus of sustainability is invaluable. Without the environmental and societal sustainability, no project would be able to be economically sustainable. Being able to properly predict water consumption in a city as large as Istanbul is pertinent to being socially sustainable, because a water shortage would bring issues to the people that use the water. Water consumption, if too high and unaccounted for can also cause drought which would have a largely negative effect on the natural environment in and around the city. Anthropogenic draught has been seen occurring in California for many years. This has caused a slew of different issues but a prevalent social and economic issue was discussed in Nature magazine in an article titled “Water and climate: Recognize anthropogenic drought”. “Streams and wetlands are drying up, including the American River hatcheries of steelhead and Chinook salmon. More than 17,000 jobs have been lost, mainly in poor rural communities” (Nature, 409). Impacts of drought are dependent on the region, as in California the hatcheries suffered and thus caused economic and social issues, but in another region, it would be different depending on what areas the water services. If the water consumption in Istanbul was still being predicted with unsophisticated models as in the past, water scarcity could occur and cause similar issues to that of California. Istanbul is also a coastal City, on the Sea of Marmara off of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Drought within the city of Istanbul would cause major economic despair because a city cannot function without a proper amount of water being distributed. Because Istanbul is Turkey’s largest industrial city and therefor makes up most of the economic activity for the country, it would be detrimental to the entire country.


Aghakouchak A, Feldman D, Hoerling M, Huxman T, Lund J. Water and climate: Recognize anthropogenic drought. Nature. 2015;524(7566):409-411. doi:10.1038/524409a.

Investigators from Istanbul University Release New Data on Information and Data Systems [Prediction Of Water Consumption In Istanbul By Means Of Statistical Forecasting Models & Geographic Information Systems (gis)]. (2017, April 4). Information Technology Newsweekly, 77.

Leeuwen K, Sjerps R. Istanbul : the challenges of integrated water resources management in Europa’s megacity. Environ Dev Sustain. 2015;18(1):1-17.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Katherine Eckam makes this connection in Kinshasa, Congo. This current event was reported in Thomson Reuters international multimedia news agency on March 8, 2017, under the title, “Congo risks 50 percent drop in power output due to low rainfall”, by Aaron Ross. This is likely real news, based on Penn State College of Earth and Mineral Sciences providing a lesson on environments of Africa, which included an article on low rainfall in Congo, by Dr. Tanya Furman at here.

The news about the lack of rainfall causing low amounts of power output relates to water resources engineering in the specific areas of hydropower. The key message in this article is the impacts of climate change range farther than just a decrease in rainfall. Precipitation has become a power and electricity source that Congo has become dependent on due to advances in hydropower technology. A lack of rainfall causes a decrease in water levels, which decreases water head and thus power. This lack of power would affect many aspects of Congo’s way of life and economy. In my critique of this news story, I think the article has missed important information on why exactly power would decrease if rainfall continues to decrease. They explain that Congo is dependent on hydropower for electricity but fail to explain what variables hydropower is dependent on. They also mention at the end of the article that there are plans to build a new dam on the Congo River but don’t explain how this dam will be able to provide sufficient power in lieu of the lack of precipitation while the existing dam is failing.

Figure 1. Grand Inga dam in Democratic Republic of the Congo. A new 4,800 MW dam on the Congo River as part of an envisioned 44,000 MW Grand Inga project could compensate for power outages.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are the three key factors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s’ Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper addressing climate change. The paper sees reducing emissions from deforestation and use of hydropower for electricity as crucial key initiatives to contribute to sustainable development in the country, which includes Kinshasa, Congo. The shortage of rainfall in Kinshasa, Congo relates to environmental issues, because the scarce rainfall has caused the Congo River to reach its lowest level in more than a century. The country’s environment minister sees climate change as the cause of this scarcity. The mining chamber has reached out for the country’s energy sector to address the problem and find a solution for this environmental dilemma. According to the article, the government responded with plans to build a new 4,800 MW dam on the Congo River as part of a 44,000 MW Grand Inga project. Charles Kyona, president of the chamber of mines in Congo, reported the societal effects of this rain shortage in the article when he stated that the miners do not have the means to work effectively without the electricity produced by hydropower. This could mean the citizens of Kinshasa could face not only a deficiency of water and electricity, but losses of jobs as well. Hydropower relates to economic issues because the country is dependent on hydropower for nearly all its electricity (Figure 1). A lack of rainfall, and thus hydropower, could mean a loss of 350-400 MW of power of the 850 MW currently produced. Medard Katakana, an official of the National Electricity Company, told Isango (2017) of VOA news, “We fear that if we don’t have enough water, we would have to stop the turbines because they cannot function when the water is below a certain level.” This would affect not only the copper industry, which produces the most copper in all of Africa, but also all other businesses currently keeping Kinshasa’s economy afloat. The cause-effect between rainfall shortage and impact to the economy of Kinshasa occurs when there is no longer enough water to turn the turbines that generate more than half of the area’s power output, taking away the ability of copper industry miners to work effectively and leaving businesses without electricity.


Isango, Eddie. “DRC Faces Power Shortage Caused By Drought”. VOA. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.