The groundwater situation in
many parts of China is deteriorating due to excessive exploitation and
increasing pollution, a senior hydrogeologist warned yesterday.
More than 79 billion cubic metres of fresh groundwater are tapped annually in
northern China, accounting for 51.5 per cent of the total exploitable
groundwater resources, Zhang Zonghu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of
Engineering, said at the 34th Congress of the International Association of
At the same time, 26.7 billion cubic metres of groundwater is tapped in the
south each year, accounting for only 13.2 per cent of the exploitable reserves,
Based on developments in the past decade, the groundwater situation will
remain stable in the south, where rainfall is ample, but will become worse in
the north, Zhang said.
As a result, many places have suffered from environmental damage such as
ground settling and depression, salt-water intrusion in some coastal regions,
and desertification in the hinterland, Zhang said.
To reverse the situation, China has brought the study of groundwater into its
national economic development plan, the researcher noted.
Groundwater in most parts of the Pearl and Yangtze river deltas has been
contaminated, said Yin Yueping, a researcher with the China Geological Survey
(CGS) under the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR).
Yin, director of the CGS Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology Department,
said China's groundwater management model is inadequate, with a poor supervision
system and outdated decontamination methods.
"The nation's groundwater management has lagged behind the world for years,"
Groundwater is any water found below the land surface. It exists almost
everywhere underground, for example in the space between particles of rock and
soil or in crevices and cracks in rock.
More than 240 scientists from 56 countries attended the five-day event, which
"is an important forum for Chinese researchers to learn groundwater management
from other countries," said Yin, who is also the secretary-general of the
Co-sponsored by the MLR and the IAH, the congress will promote the survey,
assessment, utilization, protection and management of groundwater in China, and
its role in sustainable social economic development, Yin said.