Water resources engineering involves the analysis and design of systems that control the quantity and quality of water to meet the needs of humans and the environment. People have been doing water resources engineering for thousands of years, since water is such a fundamental need of society. The engineers that founded ASCE in 1852 had just completed work on a large water project, the Croton Aqueduct, a tunnel that first brought water to New York City. Water resources issues affect other branches of civil engineering, such as the design of roadways and bridges. For example, the erosion of bridge foundations by flowing water is the most common cause of highway bridge failures.
The course is based on the fundamentals of fluid mechanics previously learned in CE 251, some hydrologic principles, and a bit of statistics related to the concept of risk and probability (e.g. “the 100-yr flood”) that is central to water resources design. The course is divided into three main sections: Pipe Systems, Open Channel Flow, and Hydrology & sustainable* (see footnote) Stormwater Management. Ground water is not a main focus since there are other courses at Lafayette on that topic (GEOL 210, CE 424). Weekly laboratories include lab experiments in hydraulics, computer analysis, and field studies.
Large water resources projects, such as the New York City water system, or management of flow within the Delaware River (basin map), or even operations of an individual reservoir often have multiple objectives and “stake-holders”, as well as significant political, social, and environmental implications. Locally, no issue in water resources is bigger than “fracking”, i.e. the use of new hydraulic fracturing techniques to release gas from deep underground formations such as the Marcellus shale. We will view several movies, discuss current news stories, and take a field trip to explore these issues.
Water Resources in the News – Spring 2014
Water Resources in the News – last year
* “Engineers … shall strive to comply with the principles of sustainable development” – ASCE Code of Ethics, Canon 1