Saturday, April 6, 2013

28,000 Rivers In China Have Disappeared

Last Thursday I blogged about 55% of the rivers and streams in U.S. were in poor conditions. Those rivers were tested with high level of mercury and bacteria, lower oxygen level due to increasing nitrogen and phosphorus concentration, etc. Now, China is also having water issue that more than half of its nation's rivers are missing.

All the while China claimed to have 50,000 rivers, with catchment area more than 100 square kilometers, across the nation. Recent survey showed that more than half of them have disappeared. 800,000 surveyors spent 3 years throughout the China to do the first ever national census of water. The official study said that only 22,909 rivers were left, as of the end of 2011.

Part of the reason causing the "loss" was that previous estimates were wrong. Due to limited technology in the past, the previous figures were estimated using incomplete topographical maps dating back to the 1950s. But that doesn't explain everything. Climate change, soil loss, and water loss are also to blame, according to Huang He, the deputy director of the group in charge of the census. Deforestation and inefficient agricultural irrigation techniques are no doubt also big contributors to the problem.

The study revealed that China had over 93,000 reservoirs, but warned it had a limited ability to regulate and control water resources due to their small water capacities.

China regularly battles deadly floods and downpours which affect millions each year. More than 66% of the population and 90% of all cities are located in regions threatened by floods.

Since 1949, China's water usage has increased more than fivefold due to its rapid economic development and growing population. The nation needs a serious rethink of how it protects its natural resources.

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