China has gone through rapid industrial growth in the last half century and, as a result, the country continues to suffer from record-breaking levels of pollution, drought, poor food quality and smog But experts say China’s most urgent problem is its water supply, which has plummeted to dangerously low levels
So, what’s happening to China’s water? Well, the issue largely one of supply and demand China is home to just under one-and-a-half billion people, or about 20 percent of the global population, and yet it holds only seven percent of the world’s fresh water Further complicating the matter, 80 percent of this water is in Southern China, while half the population and two-thirds of the farmland is in the north That means Northern cities must get their water from rivers in the South by way of man-made pipelines and canals, also known as the South-to-North Water Diversion Project When this launched in 2014, state media promoted it as the cure to the country’s water woes
But due to grossly outdated miscalculations of the south’s water supply, which has dwindled from climate change and drought, the project has had little effect on the crisis at large Today, more than one hundred metropolitan areas face severe water shortage and some, like Lintao in the North, have run out completely On top of this, most of the water China does have is heavily polluted More than 80 percent of the country’s water from underground wells is not suitable for drinking or bathing, and nearly half of its rivers are too polluted to even touch This is largely a result of emissions, industrial spills and chemical runoff from manufacturing facilities
For instance the Yellow River, which played a key part in the development of early Chinese agriculture and civilization, is now lined with thousands of petrochemical plants, leaving only 16 percent of it usable for household purposes And although China has regulations in place to mitigate industrial pollution, companies can often get around them by negotiating with local officials Lack of clean water has forced many city-dwellers to resort to polluted water for household use In fact, nearly a quarter of China’s population, or about 300 million people, drink contaminated water every day According to one report, polluted water is responsible for 190 million people falling ill per year
And, China’s water problems are expected to get worse The country’s rapidly growing population and industrialization, coupled with its increasing demand for coal, is expected to drop its water supply to dangerously low levels by 2030 This crisis is already costing China more than $200 billion dollars per year, and, according to the world bank, it could eventually lead to a war over the country’s rural, urban and industrial interests In 1999, China’s Premier called the country’s water problems a threat to the “very survival of the Chinese nation” Fifteen years later, and with no foreseeable solution, it seems as though his fears are coming true
China’s water issues don’t end with drinking water The South China Sea has been an enormous source of territorial contention for China and its neighbors, even sparking fears about war So what’s going on in the South China Sea? check out this video! Thanks for watching Seeker Daily, don’t forget to like and subscribe for new videos every day!