Water Resources Engineering is a huge field which involves managing available water resources from the standpoint of both water quantity and water quality to meet the water needs of humanity and habitats at the local, regional, national or international level. Managing water requires a sound understanding of water distribution systems such as rivers, canals pipelines, culverts, ground water wells, and water storage systems such as reservoirs, retention-detention ponds and aquifers. Water resources engineers must also have knowledge of various structures that are used to manage the conveyance of water such as sluice gates, emergency spillways, and structures that are used to store water such as dams and dikes. In addition, water resources engineers must know techniques to assess future water demand as well as the quantity and quality of the available water resources in water bodies such as rivers, lakes and groundwater. Water resources engineers should also be familiar with the transport processes such as evaporation, transpiration, runoff and infiltration which are used by nature to move water globally.
Typically, water resources engineers are involved in the processes of data collection, data analyses, structural and non-structural design, and cost-benefit analyses. The design of pipelines, dams, dikes etc. require a comprehensive knowledge of the forces applied by the water on these types of structures. Water resources engineers should also be familiar with some of the legal ramifications of transporting water from one region to another. Taking water from one area to provide water to another area could lead to law suits! Some water resources engineers are also involved in overseeing construction of water-related facilities like canals, dams and culverts etc. As pollution and water needs continue to increase, future engineers will have to find innovative ways of reclaiming water and land management to improve water yield, develop plans to deal with weather modification and determine solutions that minimize undesirable ecological consequences.
The Department of Civil Engineering and Construction Management at Florida Tech offers multiple courses for students interested in Water Resources engineering. The two required courses at the undergraduate level are Fluid Mechanics (CVE 3030) and Hydraulics and Hydrology (CVE 4032). In Fluid Mechanics, among other things, students learn on how to calculate forces applied by water on structures such as dams, dikes and pipes, and design of pipes and pipe networks required to transport adequate amounts of water through the distribution systems. In this course, students learn the important principles of conservation of water mass, momentum and energy. In Hydraulics and Hydrology, among other things, students learn to a) design lined and unlined channels for water conveyance purposes, b) conduct rainfall and runoff analyses related to flood mitigation, and c) conduct analyses to evaluate stormwater management systems. Students are given a project where they have to assess an existing stormwater management system consisting of overland flow, canal flow and reservoir storage to determine if the stormwater system provides adequate flood mitigation. Students learn analytical tools such as hydrograph analyses and routing. Since there is a certain risk involved in all designs and especially in flood mitigation, our students also learn probability theory and risk analyses. Students who are truly interested in Water Resources engineering can take an additional course Urban Hydrology (CVE 4035) which is completely project based and teaches students to design a stormwater management system including the design of storm sewers, and retention-detention ponds. Some students also take advanced courses as Groundwater Hydrology and Contaminant Transport (CVE 5039) and Numerical Groundwater Modeling (CVE 5037).
One of the things we do really well in the area of Water Resources engineering is teach students to do their own programming with the help of spreadsheets. This allows students to completely understand the basics behind industrial-strength software and mathematical models, used for design and analyses, and this is a big asset for them when they enter the real world. Instead of just becoming model users, our students actually understand what is behind the models and why the models work!