THE ECONOMIST: Northern China’s Water Problems

The subject of water scarcity and pollution in China, as related to its huge population and rapid industrialization, is an important one.

China is using up water at an unsustainable rate, and polluting it badly, as well. According to THE ECONOMIST, the World Bank estimates that China’s water problems are impacting its GDP growth by an estimated 2.3 percent (mostly health-related), and water scarcity is also threatening energy growth, which further threatens its GDP growth.

This ECONOMIST interview suggests the country of China needs fewer dams and more water pricing. It needs to stop building huge cities in the desert areas of the North, and it needs to encourage water conservation. Furthermore, if it wishes to invest in huge water engineering projects, it should direct some of that money and energy into water treatment and sewer projects, which it has not done very well to date.

Four-fifths of China’s water is in the south, notably the Yangzi river basin. Half the people and two-thirds of the farmland are in the north, including the Yellow River basin. Beijing has the sort of water scarcity usually associated with Saudi Arabia: just 100 cubic metres per person a year. The water table under the capital has dropped by 300 metres (nearly 1,000 feet) since the 1970s.

SOURCE: All dried up

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