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Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Natalie Orbesen makes this connection in Harbin, China. This current event was reported in The New York Times, on November 26th, 2005 under the title, Spill in China Brings Danger, and Cover-Up, by Jim Yardley. The details of this incident are also discussed between Sheilah Kast and Rolf Halden (Environmental Health Sciences professor at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health) on National Public Radio as well as by various other sources including Berkeley School of Public Health’s online website. The quantity of sources that discuss this incident lead me to believe that it is not fake news.

When a chemical factory exploded in November of 2005, in Jilin China, chemicals spilled into the Songhua river. Water resource engineers design different systems to manage human water. Since this event polluted the neighboring Songhua river, waste water engineering techniques could have been used to help treat the polluted water. Also, water resource engineers could have aided in a solution to help provide water to the public while the current supply was contaminated. This is an important event in water engineering, because systems created by water resource engineers ensure that people have clean water. When tragedies like these arise, water resource engineers are key components to managing and controlling the damage. The news report of the spill by The New York Times explains the social and environmental aspects of the event well, but it should have included more information about the methodology that would be used to repair the situation. It is important for the public to know that they will have safe water returned to them, and how it is going to be done.

Figure 1. A woman must use a public water tap to fill her teapot after the chemical spill.

In events where water sources are polluted, social, economic and environmental aspects are heavily impacted. In this specific event, over 100 tons of chemicals were spilled into the river that provided water for Harbin, and other cities in China. When the event first occurred, the economic impacts began. This event caused the water system in the city of Harbin to be shut down, leaving many people without any running water. When this happened the demand for bottled water skyrocketed, and in a response to this, stores made their bottled water prices unreasonably high. The government responded to this by putting a freeze on water prices. This spill also contaminated the Songhua River causing damages that would cost millions of dollars to repair or improve. The contaminates also had lasting effects on the environment. These chemicals could be ingested by marine organisms or leech into the soil. Benzene is a volatile compound that is found in gasoline. Exposure to this chemical can also have long term and short-term effects on humans. These effects include nervous systems disorders, immune system suppression, anima, chromosome aberrations and cancer. This is a human health risk that should be taken very seriously. Unfortunately, many times in situations like this, the government is not primarily concerned with public health. When this disaster happened, a local newspaper was more concerned to report about an earth quake that didn’t happen to distract the public from the spill. The city even tried to convince the people in Harbin that the water was shut down to conduct repairs on the pipes. The people who were residents of Harbin China dealt with many different social injustices because of the spill. There were some positive aspects of this spill though. According to EJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, after the spill there was revisions done to the Water Pollution Control Act (2018). This revision focused on emergency response, and how future disasters could be handled. The cause of these different environmental, social, and economic issues is a result of an explosion in a government owned chemical factory. This explosion caused chemicals to flow into a body of water, which was then polluted by the chemicals. This pollution will have everlasting effects on the ecosystem that was contaminated.


EJOLT team at School of Geography and China Centre, University of Oxford. The Jilin chemical plant explosions and Songhua River Pollution Incident, China | EJAtlas. Environmental Justice Atlas. Published February 27, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018.

Kirschner LA, Grandy EB. Media Center. Parsons Behle & Latimer. Published 2006. Accessed April 10, 2018.

Water Restored to Chinese City After Toxic Spill. NPR. Published November 27, 2005. Accessed April 10, 2018.

NPR Interviews Martyn T. Smith about the toxic effects of the Harbin, China spill. Graduate Program in Environmental Health Sciences at UC Berkeley. Published November 25, 2005. Accessed April 10, 2018.


Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Xavier Sardoni makes this connection in Moscow, Russia. This current event was reported on the Moscow Mayor official website, on October 23, 2017 under the title” Moscow is advancing their standards of drinking water quality” by Alexei Babayev. Since the mayor of Moscow has a vested interest in saying the drinking water of his city is improving in quality, the news within the article was looked at with scrutiny. However, the details check out as found on the WATEC Israel blog for 2017 at here.

The news about improvement in drinking water relates to water resource engineering in the specific area of drinking water treatment and distribution. The main highlight of this article is the discussion of how the implementation of ozone treatment assisted in bringing the Moscow drinking water to the same quality of London and Paris. This is important because generally the living conditions in Russia are considered to be sub-par, and this is a good sign for the people in Russia as the government is giving more consideration to the health and welfare of its citizens. Now, the water is treated at four different treatment plants around Moscow. The system us 13000 kilometers long and has various reservoirs, pumping stations, and regulatory nodes all connected by various diameter pipelines. About 64% of the water is now benefitting from ozone filtration, ozone-sorption, and membrane filtration as supplemental treatment causing the water to be clean, odorless, and most importantly, safe. Figure 1 shows how an ozone filtration system works. The photo was obtained from here. Unfortunately, this article fails to go into many of the specifics about the actual treatment and does not provide any scientific data. This is because it is an interview with the mayor, who unlikely knows those types of specifics off-hand as he is not a water resource engineer.

Figure 1. This demonstrates the way an ozone filtration system works in a water treatment plant.

Due to the necessity of clean drinking water, this news has many implications both socially and economically. As a resource, the environmental issues are also key in understanding the value of the information from a global perspective. Economically, the quality of water directly affects the quality of life. This gives life in Moscow higher value, and thus makes Moscow a more sought-after city to live in. This brings the value of the area up. According to a study done by Guy Hutton and Laurence Haller, they found areas that improve their water sanitation efforts end up saving massive amounts of money based primarily on the medical savings from a decrease in water born illnesses (2004). This is a net benefit for the city itself and will likely prove to be a valuable economic investment. From a societal standpoint, there are a variety of benefits. The cleaner the water, the healthier the citizens. Life spans will increase, and less people will get sick and thus improves the efficiency of the citizens. As the area’s value increases, so will the prices of living. This could be both beneficial and negative. On the one hand, decreasing the affordability of the city could lead to lower crime rate and force improvement of other places in Russia and increase the quality of living across the country. On the other hand, it may displace people who cannot afford to live in such a nice city. This news relates to environmental issues in several ways. An interesting fact brought up in the article is that about 99% of drinking water comes from surface water. This includes various reservoirs and the Moskva River. This information is important because Moscow benefits by not polluting its surface water directly. Many places rely on groundwater if not totally often more than Moscow does. For this reason, many companies will simply dump waste into surface water, but this would be devastating to Moscow as almost all of their water would be extra contaminated, and the cost to clean the water would increase. Hopefully this acts as a deterrent to companies in Moscow from committing such acts, and help conservation of the world’s water supply.


Hutton, G., & Haller, L. (2004). Evaluation of the Costs and Benefits of Water and Sanitation. Water, Sanitation and Health Protection of the Human Environment World Health Organization.

Water resources engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student, Nicholas Manzione, makes this connection in Los Angeles, California on April 4th, 2018. This current event was reported by News Deeplys “Water Deeply” section, on March 26th, 2018 under the title “How Los Angeles Could Source its Water Locally” by Tara Lohan. Although not a traditional mass media source, Water Deeply, according to their about section, is a, “independent digital media project dedicated to covering the water crises in California and the American West. Our team, a mix of journalists and technologists, aims to build a better user experience of the story by providing news and analysis in an easily accessible platform. Our hope is to add greater clarity, deeper understanding and more sustained public engagement at a critical moment in water policy.” (Water Deeply, 2018). This particular report is based on findings from a study from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) that was written by Katie Mika and her team on February 2nd, 2018 (Mika, 2018).

This specific event relates to WRE from a different standpoint, as the brainstorming and research process often plays a factor in what specific infrastructure gets approved by any government, whether it is local government (ex: The City of Los Angeles) state and or federal government levels. Based on the research conducted by Mika and her team, there is a potential that the City could source its water 100 percent locally. The management plan calls for implementing watershed-scale best management practices to meet stormwater permit requirements (Mika, 2018). More specifically, Mika dives into looking at existing infrastructure that helps reclaim stormwater and the processes that accompany Los Angeles currently and Groundwater basins, as her team has researched ways that the groundwater basins the city of Los Angeles currently has access too, based on water laws within the western portion of the United States. These sources, more specifically the groundwater basins, cover the remediation aspect of WRE, as the research team also identified potential funding opportunities for the City of Los Angeles to be able to clean polluted groundwater basins and be able to use the recycled water for future use. Since this is more of a plan and therefore hypothetical until the City of Los Angeles acts on their growing water concerns, this plan could change drastically. However, the research team as well as the reporter covering this story include that in both of their pieces, giving a disclaimer that this is only merely a very educated suggestion.

Figure 1. Picture of Los Angeles City Council with a raindrop mascot over a rain garden designed in a homeowners backyard (Cohen, 2018)

This research encapsulates economic, environmental and societal issues all at once, as potable water is the most important thing for a city. This setting for the city of Los Angeles water needs and the need for proper infrastructure to be able to recycle and clean stormwater can be best described as a general concern for the western part of the United States through work done by Mark Anderson of the USGS as the laws of appropriation, climate and an ever changing climate by humans have created a unique problem of finding water in the Western portion of the United States (Anderson, 2005). Economically this research affects Los Angeles, as if the Mayor decides to follow the research closely, not only will they have to commit to “25 to 30 years (Cohen, 2018)” to this project, but also the economic issues that can come from a long project, such as lack of funding, inflation and a raise in local, county and states taxes. Environmentally, this event is part of an ongoing issue within the Western portion in the United States, as the law of appropriation causes issues when it comes to water rights. Although the City of Los Angeles does have water sources within the San Joaquin valley, and from the Rocky Mountain Snowmelt (Cohen, 2018), due to climate change, which is also another ongoing environmental issue, these sources could potentially be no more if the temperature and climate keep increasing. Also, if these sources face man made pollution or indirect pollution (ex: lead pipes, other toxics that have leached into these sources) not only would an environmental crisis, which would most likely trigger CERCLA, would occur, but we could be looking at a much larger crisis. From a societal standpoint, water is our most important resource; not only does it fuel our lives, it fuels most of the processes we take for granted today. Without potable water, cities like Los Angeles would fail to exist. This is why the City of Los Angeles is looking to finding different ways to recycle water (Figure 1). Syracuse, New York, although an eastern United States city, has been at the forefront of water resource related issues, as they have implemented a wide variety of green infrastructure projects, such as green roofs and constructed wetlands to save stormwater (Save The Rain, 2016). This particular poster detailing these infrastructure projects was presented at the 2016 New York State Fair. These practices could serve as a good model to the mayor and city council of Los Angeles, as these practices took a lot of time to implement, required an overhaul in how storm water was looked at and eventually how successful these projects could be if the city committed to them.


Water Deeply (2018).  About Us, Retrieved from

Mika, K., Gallo, E., Porse, E., Hogue, T., Pincetl, S., & Gold, M. (2018). LA Sustainable Water Project: Los Angeles City-Wide Overview. UCLA: Sustainable LA Grand Challenge. Retrieved from

Anderson, Mark T., and Woosley, Lloyd H., Jr., 2005, Water availability for the Western United States— Key scientific challenges: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1261, 85 p.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student, Andrea Machamer, makes this connection in Mumbai, India. This current event was reported in The Times of India on February 16, 2018, under the title “BMC Pipeline Damaged, Water Scarcity in South Mumbai” by Richa Pintol. For accuracy purposes, the Hindustan Times also reported on this event on February 12, 2018.

These pipeline network and water distribution system issues relate to WRE. Problems such as the one in south Mumbai are important news for WRE in understanding how to better supply water to the serving population. Information on the percentage of water loss and the required water demand were missing in this report. In Mumbai, contamination of the water supply caused by leaks has become a common problem. For the last 5 years, minister Ranjit Patil reported 40,000 complaints of leakages. Another issue is theft, wherein 900 MLD is lost daily to both leakage and theft – about 25% of the total Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) water supply. Locals like a shopkeeper in Navi Mumbai say water officials are reluctant to fix the leaking pipes since residents have yet to intimidate them. RTI activists say any wastage of water for even the duration of seven minutes is a criminal waste of public money and resources. Officials should also regularly check stretches of water lines instead of relying on public outcry.

Figure 1. Leakages causing contamination of water has become common in Mumbai

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are important in water distribution systems of Mumbai. The south parts of Mumbai – Dadar, Parel, Sion, King Circle, and Wadala – where the BMC pipeline was found to be damaged was immediately worked on and repaired the Friday morning residents experienced water scarcities. South Mumbai is the city’s main business district as well as the richest urban area in India where property prices are amongst the highest in the world. Yet in other locales, water scarcities and pipe leakages gone on for days, even months, before being resolved. For most residents, their daily water is delivered for a few hours every day, forcing urban people to store water in iron, plastic drums, or large earthenware. Wealthy people have different arrangements for drinking water supply, but the poor living in slums don’t have such agreements and pay extravagant prices for water. Lower income families are spending large proportion of their income for a few liters of water every day. A major problem caused by the leakages is the pollution of the groundwater. Groundwater is vulnerable to contamination from leakage of sewage pipelines. The amount of unaccounted water in Mumbai is almost 20%, but the acceptable maximum amount is 15% to be considered cost effective.


Gupta S. Ground Water Information Greater Mumbai District Maharshtra. 2013.

Gurlhosur G. Mumbai civic body replaces only 50% of the promised water pipelines in 2017. Hindustan Times. Published February 12, 2018.

Pintol R. BMC pipeline damaged, water scarcity in parts of south Mumbai. The Times of India. Published February 16, 2018.

Rode S. Public Private Partnership in Drinking Water Supply of Greater Mumbai. Published 2008.

ERE’s Ted Endreny provided an invited comment on the value of urban forests to Nature Communications, as part of the 2018 International Day of Forests. This article is open-access, and its online link can be readily shared to help establish urban forest habitat and human well-being.

The article starts as:

Growth in urban populations creates opportunities for urban forests to deliver ecosystem services critical to human wellbeing and biodiversity. Our challenge is to strategically expand urban forests and provide our international communities, particularly the vulnerable, with healthier, happier, and enriched lives.

Trees are too often removed for urbanization, well captured by Joni Mitchell’s lyrics “They paved paradise. And put up a parking lot.” Urban areas globally will expand to accommodate population growth and migration trends1. Yet, urban denizens benefit greatly with trees in their habitat, and that is the theme of the 2018 International Day of Forests; Forests and Sustainable Cities. Urban areas can concentrate poverty and sickness, and trees can help alleviate these ills through their ecosystem services. Our global challenge is to grow urban forests and sustain human wellbeing and biodiversity.

The urban forest is defined to comprise all trees in the urban area, inclusive of individual street trees and clusters of park trees, and peri-urban forests extend to the outer metropolitan area. Within the urban forest, forest types include city parks and urban forests >0.5 ha, pocket parks and gardens with trees, trees on streets or in public squares, and any other green spaces with trees, such as riparian corridors, rooftops, and nurseries. Urban areas occupy 4% of the world’s land area, and if planted at global average tree density, they could contain 121 billion trees2. Urban forests may have <10 billion trees, with >100 genus including PinusPlatanus, and Pyrus that are increasingly planted based on the ecosystem services they can deliver.

For more, visit:

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student, Michael O’Connor, makes this connection in the Rhine-Ruhr region of Germany. This current event was reported by the Deutsche Welle online news on June 1st, 2017, under the title “Authorities take precautions as rivers across Germany continue to flood,” by Sertan Sanderson. This is likely real news based on various sources such as the European Union and German engineering firms have been reporting on it and are attempting to develop solutions to control flooding along the Rhine River. Deutsche Welle is also the international broadcaster for Germany, making it highly unlikely for it to broadcast fake news.

Figure 1. Flooding in the Streets of the Ruhr Region

This current event deals with the process of managing runoff and flood water from rivers to prevent flooding. This is an important topic not only for Germany, however for any metropolitan areas developed near a river. Often times, humans develop in flood plains, where severe weather could possibly cause the river to overcome its banks. The general trend in last couple of decades has seen an increase in the frequency and destructive nature of storms across the globe, likely due to climate change. Fortunately, Germany has taken a proactive approach in dealing with flooding along the Rhine. This goes back to the 1930’s when Germany built a series of dams in order to control flooding and provide electricity to its residents. In modern-day Germany, advancements in technology have led to different strategies being used to curtail flooding. On the technological side, Germany has been creating property-level mitigation measures, such as water-resistant windows and doors, early-warning systems, robust response systems and the designation of more retention areas (Thieken 2016). Germany has also been looking to cooperate more with bordering countries, since flooding is often not just confined to one country. Germany has also been engaging more with the public, by incorporating local interests, experience and knowledge in all phases of risk-management strategies. There has also been a change in policy with regards to flooding. The present decisions on government reconstruction aid should be replaced with a transparent national ‘risk transfer’ system, which considers whether a property owner has insurance and combines reconstruction with risk reduction (thereby making structures more resilient to future floods). They suggest that legislation for reconstruction assistance, such as a federal loss compensation guideline, is needed. (Thieken 2016). Flood management will continue to adapt as we progress in an every changing world and Germany is attempting it’s best to reduce the devastation caused by flooding. While the article provides a great deal of information, there are some pieces missing that would benefit water resources management. The actual amount of rain, the rate of precipitation, and the time duration were all pieces left out of the article that could give us a better understanding of the situation. Another piece of information could be soil type and moisture content. As demonstrated in lab, the moisture content of the soil plays an important role in infiltration rates.

Figure 2. Flood Zone in a City

Figure 3. Surveying the Damage caused by Flooding

Figure 4. Tweet Capturing Flooding near Bremen Earlier this Year

Containing flood waters is a crucial function of any major metropolitan area. These new technologies and strategies against flooding in the Rhine is important for the industrial heart of Germany and the area’s nearly 5 million residents. Economic, social, and environmental issues are all considered. Economic might be the largest issue since flooding is the most expensive natural disaster, as we see here in the US. Major flooding on the Ruhr region could have major impact on the economy if the area was put out of commission. Flooding in the 1990s is what motivated the government to begin to change its approach to flood managements (Halbe 2018). Not only does flooding cause economic damage by destroying homes, businesses and infrastructure, it also disrupts commerce on the Rhine, which to this day, remains a river full of trade. As mentioned before, measures are being taken to reduce the impact caused by flooding of the Rhine. There are also social issues related to this. The Rhine-Ruhr region has one of the highest population densities in the world. Pressure from the public, along with the real possibility of loss of life, compelled the German government to protect its citizens. The new strategies and technology implemented by the authorities have provided safety for the public after recent flooding in 2007. There is also an environmental side to this story as well. Since the mid-16th century, about 80% of the wetlands along the Rhine have been drained or destroyed (Halbe 2018). This environmental degradation has led to a greater intensity of flooding. Now, there has been restoration efforts aimed at creating wetlands in order to protect people from flood waters. As we can see, the world is changing at a pace never seen before in history. Whether it’s due to climate change or social progress, management of water resources will have to continue to adapt in order to protect to welfare and safety of the public.


Halbe, J. Towards an integrated flood management approach to address trade-offs between ecosystem services: Insights from the Dutch and German Rhine, Hungarian Tisza and Chines Yangtze Basins. Journal of Hydrology. Volume 559. April 2018.

Sertan, S. Authorities take precautions as rivers across Germany continue to Flood. Deutsche Welle. June 2017.

RuhrverBand, R. Department of Water Resources Management and Morphology. April 2018

Thieken, A. Flood risk management has improved in Germany in European Commission Science for Environment Policy. September 2016.





Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Meena Janekrabuanhad makes this connection in Tehran, Iran. This current event was reported in Tehran Times, on May 7, 2016, under the title “Water crisis in Iran: A desperate call for action”, by Kaveh Madani. This WRE current event of the water shortage in Iran is likely real news as it was reported in The New York Times on January 18, 2018 at here.

Figure 1. Lake Urmia, Iran has dried up and decreased by 90%.

Figure 2. Protestors in Tehran, Iran demanding the government to solve the water crisis.

This water shortage current even relates to water resources engineer because of poor management of the water supply, declining groundwater resources, water contamination, and dry lakes and rivers (Figure 1). Iran is currently depleting their water supply at a faster rate than it can sustain their entire population especially since its population has almost doubled in the past two decades of the 20th century. Water availability is better in urban areas causing an increased migration. For example, Tehran, the capital of Iran, has surpassed 14 million people. The news focuses on three main reasons the water crisis is what it is currently: population growth, inefficient agriculture, and mismanagement. This is important news because water is a basic right and necessity that every human being deserves because it influences health and is crucial for survival (Figure 2). The news failed to mention, though, how the people can help mitigate the water crisis, how to increase infiltration to replenish groundwater, and how to avoid water contamination in order to increase their water supply. The news did state that water prices should be increased but I think that is difficult to implement when overuse of water is not the problem but lack of it is – there is no water to increase the price.

Figure 3. This woman is going to look for water to fill the plastic jugs for her and her family.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues are all interconnected and affected by the water shortage in Tehran, Iran. Lack of water is causing economic issues because farmers are unable to irrigate their crops leading to a failure in production of crops. It was reported by Foltz (2002) that 100,000 farm workers lost their job due to crop failure in Iran. Lack of water is also causing environmental issues because ecosystems are being destroyed due to the drying up of lakes and rivers. Lastly, lack of water relates to societal issues because it is affecting people’s health and well-being since water is a basic, crucial necessity to life (Figure 3). The cause-effect relationship between water shortage and the problems in Tehran, Iran is that without access to clean, drinkable water, they cannot survive. Lack of water affects health, hygiene, and all daily activities.


Foltz, R. Iran’s Water Crisis: Cultural, Political, and Ethical Dimensions, in Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 2002, pp. 357-380, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002.

Madani, K. Water Crisis in Iran: A desperate call for action, in Tehran Times 2016, Tehran Times Daily Newspaper, 2016.

Sengupta, S. Warming, Water Crisis, Then Unrest: How Iran Fits an Alarming Pattern, in The New York Times 2018, The New York Times Company, New York, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Isabelle Horvath makes this connection in Lima, Peru. This current event was reported in BNamericas, on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017, under the title, “Peru building Lima’s first desalination plant, by an Alex Emery. This is unlikely to be “fake news” as Lima Peru’s potable water shortage has been previously been covered by Water and Sanitation Program at here, and such a water shortage serves as justification for the construction of a desalination facility.

SEDAPAL (Servicio de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de Lima), a water company in Lima, Peru announced the undertaking of an estimated 2 year desalination facility construction project this past December 2017. This undertaking falls under the realm of water and wastewater treatment, and it’s a part of Peru President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski’s 5 year and $6.5 billion (US dollar) initiative to provide water to 100% of Peru’s residents by 2021 (Emery, 2017). This effort to provide water to the people of Peru fulfills the quintessential role of water resources engineering by providing safe assessable water (Chin, 2013). The development of this desalination facility is important to the WRE community as it fundamentally addresses a major WRE goal of providing people with water, and it serves and an example of using available resources (seawater) and new technologies (desalination) in order to reach this goal of water accessibility. While the article does provide technical specifications regarding the treatment plant, the exact source of the saline water being withdrawn was not listed nor was the concentration of salinity listed; both of which are important design factors in the plant.

Figure 1: Desalination Facility in Veolia, Peru. A current successful plant in operation on the Peruvian coast, providing water for communities 40km inland. Plants such as this one helped to strengthen the argument for a desalination plant to be funded in Lima.

Societal, environmental and economic issues dictate key aspects of the desalination facility, like the increased public water access, energy expenditure and budgeted government spending. The development of this desalination facility is projected to bring about a huge social change as it is projected that 100,000 residents of the Santa Maria district of south Lima will receive enough water from the facility to meet their daily needs (Emery, 2017). Environmental impacts to be considered from the development of the plant are high energy consumption necessary for desalination, resulting carbon dioxide emission, and the need for relocation of salt concentrate after desalination; none of which was mentioned in the article (Shapira et al., 2018). This undertaking is a huge financial move by the Peruvian government, with a total estimated cost of $95 million US dollars, about a sixth of the proposed spending on water infrastructure in Kuczynski’s 5-year increased water access plan (Emery, 2017). Lack of potable water for people in coastal regions is no uncommon issue, as Gómez-Gotor (2018) reports the toils of water access for people in the Canary Islands and how the Canary Islands have a addressed water scarcity through their history with methods ranging from shipment of clean water, to the construction of the world’s 24th desalination facility in 1964(Gómez-Gotor 2018). Gómez-Gotor (2018) continues to describe the current success of desalination in the Canary Islands and even addresses the Islands’ current pursuit of sustainable operation of desalination facilities in order to reduce carbon dioxide production (a bi-product in the desalination process). Such a successful use of desalination for a coastal population leads to believe that the implementation of a desalination facility in Lima will also successfully provide much-needed clean water. Lima Peru’s efforts to implement WRE can be simplified to a cause and effect relationship, where the cause is a water shortage having risen from an increased population in areas with limited water resources, and the effect was the implementation of alternative water technologies, like desalination, to provide clean and sufficient water to meet human needs.


Chin, D. A, (2013), Water Resources Engineering Third Edition, Pearson.

Gómez-Gotor A, Del Río-Gamero B, Prieto Prado I, Casañas A. Engineering advance: The history of desalination in the Canary Islands. Desalination [serial online]. February 15, 2018;428:86-107.  Available from: ScienceDirect, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 22, 2018.

Shapira B, Cohen I, Penki T, Avraham E, Aurbach D. Energy extraction and water treatment in one  system: The idea of using a desalination battery in a cooling tower. Journal Of Power Sources  [serial online]. February 28, 2018;378:146-152. Available from: ScienceDirect, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 22, 2018.

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our Student Megan Steward makes this connection in Rio de Janeiro. This current event was reported in Circle of Blue: Water News, on August 12, 2016, under the title, For Brazil, Rio Sewage is One of Many Water Challenges, by Codi Kozacek. This current event is likely true and accurate due to similar articles published in National Geographic discussing the same water issues relating to the treatment of wastewater in Rio de Janeiro.

The current event is related to WRE because of the lack of wastewater treatment infrastructure in such a significant city. The water way of concern is the Guanabara Bay, the site of the summer Olympic Sailing Events in 2016. This bay has become so polluted due to the fact that approximately half of the homes in Rio de Janeiro are not connected to the sewage treatment plant, allowing raw sewage to flow directly into the bay during large storm events (Konkel, 2016). This is important news for WRE because this issue is not solely isolated to Rio de Janeiro, it is common in many countries where there is a lack of economic resources in order to construct an adequate amount of infrastructure to prevent the sewage from flowing directly into the Guanabara Bay. This particular WRE article is a good summation of the water issues that are occurring various regions of Brazil, but lack some more of the technical information in regards to specific environmental and human health hazards that are directly associated with the raw sewage being directly discharged into the bay. This article also goes into some detail about the drinking water quality in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paul, Brazil, but lacks some continuity in the paper. It would have been more effective as two articles expanding on the drinking water or wastewater issue that Brazil is facing.

Figure 1: Aerial view of Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro.

The state of Guanabara Bay will not be solved by a single solution and it cannot be done quickly. There are many economic, environmental, and societal issues that have been a part of the cause of direct sewage distribution in the bay. On the forefront are the economic issues regarding the proper infrastructure needed to handle such a large amount of raw sewage and that is that Brazil does not have the capital funds to add the infrastructure to such a large and fast growing city. Urbanization is occurring in Brazil at such a fast rate, that the proper drinking water, electric, and wastewater infrastructure cannot occur precisely when Rio needs it the most. Environmentally, there are many issues regarding how the discharge of raw sewage is directly affecting the ecosystem in Guanabara Bay. The marine life has dwindled drastically over the last couple of decades due to excessive algal grow due to excess nutrients, industrial chemical and oil spills in the bay which cause a hormone imbalance and immune system issues in the aquatic life (Konkel, 2016). The social issue that occurs due to this WRE problem is not explicitly stated in these articles, but due to the immense amount of chemicals and raw sewage in the bay, eating any marine life found causes consumption of heavy metals, PCBs, and petroleum. Although this will kill an individual in a single dose, over a life-time, a negative health effect would present itself (Konkel, 2016).


Kozacek, C. (2016, August 12). For Brazil, Rio Sewage is One of Many Water Challenges. Retrieved March  25, 2018, from

Konkel, L. (2016, August 15). What’s in Rio’s Bay and Beaches? Retrieved March 25, 2018, from

Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Andrew Hoff makes this connection in Shenzhen, China. This current event was reported in Black & Veatch, on December 8, 2011, under the title, “New High-Tech Park in China Investigates Water Reuse for New Plants,” by Keith Morrison. The information from this article is effectively validated by a supplementary article from Water & Wastewater International, “MBR Technology Propels China into Water Reuse Era,” which states that Shenzhen, whose water reclamation rate was only 11 percent in 2009, anticipates a surge up to 80 percent by 2020.

Figure 1: Concept art for Shenzhen’s new industrial park

News regarding the development of water reuse technology in Shenzhen’s Lunggang District relates to water resources engineering, specifically to the sub-discipline of water and wastewater treatment. One treatment plant is being designed to treat up to 9,000 cubic meters of domestic waste per day, while the other is to treat 2,000 cubic meters of industrial waste per day (Morrison, 2011). Black & Veatch’s water infrastructure department is investigating Membrane Bioreactor (MBR)/Integrated Fixed-film Activated Sludge (IFAS) technology. MBR/IFAS systems produce high-quality effluent, making them an advantageous solution for water reuse and surface water discharge applications. The latter requires pervasive nutrient removal; fortunately, MBR/IFAS systems are highly efficient at eliminating oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, bacteria, and total suspended solids (Waterworld). Such technology has the potential to revolutionize the water treatment industry. Morrison’s article, however, neglected the fact that MBR technology has yet to be upgraded for extended membrane life span and cleaning frequency. Hopefully, improvements will be made soon as a means to achieve on-line membrane cleaning and to increase energy reduction and tolerance ability to manage variation of feed water quality.

This progression of water and wastewater treatment impacts the economy, environment, and society. Economically, executing the design production processes within the local jewelry industrial park will facilitate a rise in jewelry exports to markets abroad, drawing more profit into the city. Throughout China, such projects are expected to demand the equivalent of more than 26 billion USD in investment to construct these facilities and to perform water reclamation at the municipal and industrial levels (Waterworld). The Chinese government actually compensates for half of the construction expenditures for municipal plants as a means to catalyze the growth of the water treatment industry. Furthermore, demands for higher water quality, extended module lifetime, and decreased energy use by MBR technology require long-term amendment of contemporary technology for the sake of cost-effectiveness. Environmentally, these new facilities will help reduce pollution. Reclaimed water will help meet sustainability goals as China hopes to overcome water scarcity. Additionally, these advancements will create a renewable stream of non-potable water resources. Environmental concerns tend to overlap with social interests. Citizens may experience a rise in standard of living as pollution decreases and clean water eventually becomes more available. Liang and van Dijk (2016) assessed, “increased water availability is the most vital environmental benefit engendered by the centralized wastewater reuse systems.” As water begins to increase in abundance, cautionary tariffs – intended to incentivize the rationing of municipal water supplies – may come to a halt, and even be reduced over time. This can allow the citizenry to save more money and stress less not only about financial matters, but a previously quite limited water supply as well.


Liang X, van Dijk MP. Evaluating the Interests of Different Stakeholders in Beijing Wastewater Reuse Systems for Sustainable Urban Water Management. . October 2016:7. Accessed March 23, 2016.

MBR Technology Propels China into Water Reuse Era. Accessed March 22, 2018.

Morrison K. New high-tech industrial park in China investigates water reuse for new plants. December 2011. Accessed March 22, 2018.