Water use threatens progress
By Hu Cong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-28 05:42
Although investment may be flooding into China's booming economy, the
country's vital water resources are stuttering to a trickle, a senior expert has
According to Liu Ning, chief engineer of the Ministry of Water Resources,
about 25 per cent of all groundwater is contaminated with pollution.
More than half of groundwater in plain areas, which cover 1.15 million square
kilometres, is below drinking water standard, and the groundwater in more than
half of China's cities is "severely polluted," said Liu.
"The strain on water resources is increasing along with rapid economic and
social development," Liu said at a forum in Xinyang, Henan Province on Tuesday.
Water consumption in some areas has far exceeded the resources available,
causing the drying up of rivers, lakes and wetlands, and exacerbating pollution,
"This has created a potential, and in some ways direct, threat to the
security of the environment and the economy," he added.
Official statistics show there are 164 regions, covering an area of 190,000
square kilometres, where too much water is being taken from the environment. It
is reckoned that, all together, more than 10 billion cubic metres of water too
many have been tapped.
Subsidence, a result of excessive water extraction, has affected 64,000
square kilometres, including land in 50 cities.
Meanwhile, the country's sewage output reached 68 billion tons in 2003, more
than triple the 1980 level. About a third of industrial sewage and two thirds of
domestic sewage were discharged without any treatment.
"In some areas where the ecosystem is fragile, water resources are so badly
degraded it affects people's daily lives and threatens social and economic
development," said Liu.
According to Liu's ministry, more than 90 rivers in the country, including
the major Yellow and Liaohe rivers, have run dry. Compared to the 1950s, the
size of lakes across the country has decreased by 15 per cent, while natural
wetlands have retreated 26 per cent.
(China Daily 10/28/2005 page3)