China has a river problem and its first national water census has comeback with some grim results; the data was released pointed out that half of the nations rivers are no longer flowing. In 1990 over 50,000 rivers were located in China, now there only 22,909.
Beijing officials are now fumbling to find answers and excuses for the disappearance of over 28,000 rivers. The expanding social developments are clearly correlated to the drying-up of rivers, but officials also seek to blame errors of previous cartographers and climate change as the root cause of this aqueous eradication.
Jiao Yong, Vice Minister of Water Resources claims that the drastic drop in the number is partly due to the use of new maps during the survey. He added that the social development and climate change also affected the number of the country’s rivers (Global Times).
Ma Jun, a water expert at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs says that “One of the major reasons is the over-exploitation of the underground water reserves, while environmental destruction is another reason, because desertification of forests has caused a rain shortage in the mountain areas,” (theaustralian.com)
With China’s economy is moving ahead like a Formula One race car, intently focused on it’s destination, it’s difficult to prevent the destruction of the environment that’s going on outside this whirlwind of development.
Environmental pollution is a growing concern to in China, especially to its middle class, who are all but too aware of the torrents of environmental hazards of recent years. China’s rivers were recently mentioned when over 9,000 dead pigs were found floating down the Yellow River, and were also heavily scrutinized when the “cancer villages” made worldwide headlines earlier, this year. Rt.com reported that “The so-called towns are areas where pollution, particularly soil and water pollution, is so bad there has been a huge rise in diseases like stomach cancer.”
China’s river problem has been made clear due to recent news and according to the UK-based The Times, the UN considers China to be one of the 13 countries most affected by water scarcity. If the scarcity were not bad enough, the quality of the water is even worse: water, in China, is borderline toxic; industrial factories have been blamed for adding toxic chemicals and turning the Yangtze an alarming shade of red. This same river is of iconic significance to China, and has been known to dry out before it reaches the Yellow Sea.
Not only does China have barren and polluted rivers, but there is also the devastating problem of flooding due to insufficient security measures. The flooding is one of the many river problems China is hoping to fix with its new plan.
The Yellow River is known as China’s mother river and has endured pollution, drought, and flooding, but it also brings water to 12 percent of the Chinese population and waters the farmland that generates 13 percent of its GDP. The government’s plan is to build three more reservoirs on the river by 2020.
The newly approved plan will mainly focus on water and silt control, flood prevention, water and soil erosion prevention, water resource allocation and utilization, water resource and water ecology protection and the drainage areas’ comprehensive management.
Further development programs for the Yangtze river include irrigation and shipping [sic].” (Xinhua)
China’s river problem is about as big as its rivers used to be. The unprecedented industrial, agricultural, and economic growth have grown without limitations, now, the land they grow on is seeing the effects of the lack of care. From floating pig carcasses in drinking water to great rivers turned to streams, the cause and effect is more than clear. Pollution and general disregard for the environment will continue to result in detriment towards the natural world, and all that it gives.