Water Situation In China - Crisis Or Business As Usual?

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Industriell miljöteknik


Several studies indicates China is experiencing a water crisis, were several regions are suffering of severe water scarcity and rivers are heavily polluted. On the other hand, water is used inefficiently and wastefully: water use efficiency in the agriculture sector is only 40% and within industry, only 40% of the industrial wastewater is recycled. However, based on statistical data, China’s total water resources is ranked sixth in the world, based on its water resources and yet, Yellow River and Hai River dries up in its estuary every year. In some regions, the water situation is exacerbated by the fact that rivers’ water is heavily polluted with a large amount of untreated wastewater, discharged into the rivers and deteriorating the water quality. Several regions’ groundwater is overexploited due to human activities demand, which is not met by local. Some provinces have over withdrawn groundwater, which has caused ground subsidence and increased soil salinity. So what is the situation in China? Is there a water crisis, and if so, what are the causes?This report is a review of several global water scarcity assessment methods and summarizes the findings of the results of China’s water resources to get a better understanding about the water situation. All of the methods indicated that water scarcity is mainly concentrated to north China due to rapid growth, overexploitation from rivers and reduced precipitation. Whereas, South China is indicated as abundant in water resources, however, parts of the region are experiencing water scarcity due to massive dam constructions for water storage and power production. Too many dam constructions in a river disrupts flow of the river water and pollutants are then accumulated within floodgates.Many Chinese officials and scholars believe that with economic growth comes improved environmental quality when the economy has reached to a certain of per-capita level. However, with the present water situation it is not sustainable or possible for China to keep consuming and polluting its water resources. Improvement of environmental quality does not come automatically with increased income, and policies, laws and regulations are needed in order to stop further deterioration of the environment.China’s water situation is not any news and the key factor is human activities, but the question is how to solve it. China’s water crisis is much more complex than over exploitation of groundwater and surface water. There are three water issues in China: “too much water – floods, too little water – droughts, and too dirty water – water pollution” (Jun & Chen, 2001). Thus, solving China’s water crisis is a huge challenge to solve without negatively affecting the economic growth.

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