Water engineering is a branch of civil engineering which is vital to our everyday lives. Water engineers deal with collecting, storing, cleaning and distributing water for drinking and irrigation of crops; collection, cleaning and treatment of sewage and other dirty water; preventing flooding; managing rivers and canals.
Water is one of our most important natural resources. It is a renewable resource which benefits from a natural cycle of replenishment; however, it is arguably the resource that is most taken for granted. This is particularly so in the UK, where most people see clean water gush out of the taps in their homes without truly understanding where our water originates from and what it takes to deliver that water from source to our homes.
Water engineers design reservoirs and dams to store water which flows from the land into rivers. Dams are usually very large manmade structures which hold back water in a large artificial lake called a reservoir. The main types of dam are embankment dams, buttress dams, gravity dams and arch dams. hey design the treatment plants which clean and purify the water and the pipes which transport the clean water to our homes, factories and farms. Reservoirs are very important in ensuring water is available when we need it – even during times when there is not much rain.
Other water engineers design treatment plants which filter, clean and purify the water so that it is safe to drink. They also design and lay pipes to carry the clean water to where it is needed. Sometimes they construct water towers and tanks to store water close to where it might be needed.
Another part of water engineering is flood defence. Flooding from rivers and the sea can cause enormous damage and disruption to our daily lives. Serious flooding may also put lives at risk. Water engineers design flood defences such as barriers, dams, guards, and gates. The Thames Barrier is one of the most famous flood defence structures in the world. It is used during high tides or storm surges to prevent flooding in London. This video shows how the Thames Barrier works https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GricS4iCgtc