Keys to understanding the problem of water in China

Keys to understanding the problem of water in China

Library of Congress of Chile. BCN Asia Pacific, February 24,2011.                

China currently faces great challenges around water scarcity and the Ministry of Water Resources has acknowledged that his country supply system could have collapsed by 2030. See below the various factors that threaten to halt the rapid Chinese development. Many causes for a crisis:

Population growth: The major factor is the growth of a population that already reached the 1,300 million and that in the next 20 years will jump to 1,600 million. It is also estimated that by then, 60% of them live in urban areas with limited water resources. At that time the country will demand between 800,000 and 900,000 million cubic meters, of which 50% will be used to irrigate agricultural crops, some 280,000 million will be spent in urban areas and industry and only 100,000 million more help protect natural ecosystems.

Rapid development: After three decades of economic development, the current consumption of cities and factories is around 1,800 million cubic meters. That provision, 68% are engaged in agriculture, 20% for human consumption and only one-seventh is used to maintain or rehabilitate the natural environment. Demographic expansion and consequent industrialization would lead to its highest figure of 6,800 million cubic meters in the next 20 years.
Lack of environmental impact studies: The lack of environmental impact assessment has traditionally accompanied the development of this nation, means that China is depleting its water rapidly. Nearly four hundred cities of seven hundred, currently suffer water shortages in China. Almost all are in the north. Only in 2000, of 514 rivers tested, 60 were completely dry, while 14% of lakes and wetlands had dwindled dramatically. A lack of environmental planning has been compounded by the worst drought in half a century.
Drought: 80% of the population has problems with water supply caused by drought, are in the arid Southwest. On the island of Hainan, for example, where they  registed an annual rainfall of 1,400 liters per square meter, 11 reserves of medium size have dried  as more than 930 small sources, so 900,000 people and 200,000 head of cattle suffering from restrictions water. In Shanxi there are only 860 million cubic meters in its marshes and reservoirs, 200 less than the annual consumption that presents this province north of the country. Also Guangdong, the province with the largest area of ​​coastal China, suffering from severe drought, the worst in the last 50 years and affects one million people, and many rural areas do not even have water.
Saltwater Swells: Instead of rain, China received the worst tides of salt for two decades. This phenomenon occurs when the sea breaks on the inside due to low water carried by rivers. So, 16 million residents in the Pearl River Delta will be threatened their supplies, so expect typhoons and tropical storms to meet demand.
Periodic interruption of water supply: One of the problems that cause a greater impact on the internal politics of China, is the supply and water pollution. The periodic interruption of supply caused an estimated loss of 11 billion dollars in industrial production, while the contamination of this basic element has resulted in a cost of 3 thousand 900 million dollars.
Demographic imbalance: Another of the great challenges of this developing nation is to achieve a balance of population concentrations and hydrographic imposed by the history and geography of their territory. In the seven river basins in northern China live on 47% of the population, but only have 12% of water. In the 4 southern basin is home to nearly the same population, but concentrates more than 80% of the water.


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