A recent survey by UNICEF in 11 provinces found that over half of all drinking water samples contained unacceptably high levels of bacteria. Traditionally, Chinese households collect human waste and transport it to the fields for use as fertilizer, often without further treatment.
Print Email There is an old saying in Chinese culture that the appearance of a fat pig at the front door augurs abundance and good fortune.
The sight of a bloated one floating dead down the nearest river portends something else entirely. In the past two weeks, more than 16, dead pigs have been fished out of the Huangpu River, near Shanghai, and its tributaries. Outraged Chinese citizens have decried government negligence of the environment, flooding online forums with photos of riverbanks dotted with puce-coloured carcasses.
Factory officials waited five days to report the spill, forcing neighbouring Handan city to temporarily cut off drinking water to a million people. As much as 70 per cent of Chinese rivers and lakes are polluted from industrial facilities like chemical and textile plants.
Perhaps even more unnerving are the findings of a recent report by the China Geological Survey estimating that 90 per cent of Chinese cities are tapped into polluted groundwater supplies; groundwater in two-thirds of those cities is considered "severely polluted".
Recalling a recent visit to the heavily polluted Lake Tai, newly installed president Xi Jinping quipped this month that "the standard that internet users apply for lake water quality is whether the mayor dares to jump in and swim".
Some 24, villages have been abandoned because of the desertification effects of the Gobi desert advancing eastwards. In Beijing, the amount of water available per person is just one-tenth of the UN standard of 1, cubic metres; across the country more than two-thirds of cities have water shortages.
Beijing has long tried to maintain a balancing act between the spread of industry, continued support for agriculture and ensuring a clean supply for consumption by 1.
As water supplies dwindle, competition may arise over which is given priority. All three are needed to ensure stability.
Beijing is not short of bold strategies to try to tackle the problem. Over the next decade, China plans to quadruple its desalination capacity.
Beyond increasing supply, Beijing has also committed billions to promoting water conservation in agriculture through sustainable irrigation practices. Industry is also pulling its weight by fitting new factories with mandatory water recycling systems and by participating in water rights transfers with farmers.
China is also investing heavily in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, and sea-water-cooled nuclear plants, which are less water-intensive than traditional coal plants. Moreover, China already has many of the regulations needed to stop the adulteration of its rivers and lakes.
Unfortunately, most have been rendered toothless by a bureaucratic culture riven with corruption. Still, it remains unclear how the state will go about curbing rampant corruption, especially without engaging in potentially destabilising political reform. Sadly, there is little such abundance in terms of water, and much of the little that exists is dangerously toxic.
As events move increasingly towards environmental reckoning, many Chinese might prefer a less ironic portent than a river flowing with swine. This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:Apr 29, · Within the water supply catchments serving these cities, identified national priority biodiversity areas account for 25% of the total catchment and intersect with eco-regions containing roughly one-fifth of China’s fish and terrestrial animal diversity.
The World Bank puts the cost of China’s water problems—mostly damage to health—at % of a year’s GDP. Damming or diverting rivers tackles only supply—increasing available water by. Matthew Garland says the dead pigs found floating in a Shanghai river are only the tip of China's massive water problem, which the government is already desperate to tackle.
China's Water Problems Run Deep. China's cities but also to its soil and water pollution problems, which further exacerbate its limited clean, freshwater supply, Parton says. The Chinese leadership is trying not only to increase water supply, but also to curb demand through conservation and efficiency measures, and it’s committed to spending $ billion on water conservation over the next 10 years.
Since , China has taken 21 million acres of farmland out of production, and required farmers to use more. Water supply and sanitation in China is undergoing a massive transition while facing numerous challenges such as rapid urbanization, Health problems caused by the lack of safe water are exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions, especially in rural China.
Traditionally, Chinese households collect human waste and transport it to the fields for.