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Hydrology vs Hydraulics

Hydrology and hydraulics are tools that make up hydrodynamics which is what a water resource engineer uses to understand fluids and how they work to accomplish a task. Many infrastructure personnel use hydrology and hydraulics together to improve and maintain environments to protect the health of both humans and ecosystems, but what a water resource engineer needs to understand is how hydrology and hydraulics work together within a water management system.

What is hydrology?

Hydrology is a subspecialty of civil engineering focused on water and its movement in relation to land. An example of this is when rainwater falls and hits the ground, where does it go? A possible answer is onto a road and then into a ditch continuing through many steps until it reaches your sink. 

What is hydraulics?

Hydraulics focuses on how liquid moves through pipes and channels. How these liquids move can be used as a tool to do work such as create power as it moves through a turbine engine or how liquids can be controlled and contained. 

Once the hydrology piece from the example above gets the water from the road into the ditch, hydraulics takes over. What happens to the water once it is in the ditch? Hydraulics looks at how the water is moving and what it is doing once it is in the ditch. For example, hydraulics will determine if the water is drained to an alternate location to prevent flooding or diverted to a reservoir for storage. 

What is water resource management?

Water supplies as well as wastewater treatment are imperative to a successful community. An example of water resources management is monitoring reservoir levels and determining a necessary level, so water is available for irrigation in times of drought. A water resource engineer uses hydrodynamics to make sure a community has sufficient resources to manage its needs. 

What is a water resource engineer?

A water resource engineer monitors the flow of water through infrastructure systems and develops efficient water storage plans. They also work with various organizations to prevent and manage flood events. 

OEI is a water resource specialty firm

O’Brien Engineering Inc. (OEI) was established more than 30 years ago as a water resource engineering firm. Contact us today to learn how O’Brien Engineering’s three decades of water resources planning experience sets us apart from other engineering firms.