Beijing Water

Study puts price on ecological ruin

Agence France-Presse and South China Morning Post
February 21, 2006

An official report concludes that much of the water in the Yangtze River is below national standards, unfit for drinking and even “seriously dangerous,” the South China Morning Post reports.

Relentless exploitation of natural resources in China’s western provinces has damaged the region’s ecosystem and created considerable economic losses, an official report found. Environmental pollution in the 1990s caused direct economic losses equal to 13 per cent of the region’s output, according to the report published on Saturday by the State Environmental Protection Agency and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “In reality, the indirect and potential economic losses are even greater,” authors of the study warned. The report said construction of dams had led to the blocking of the lower reaches of rivers, the shrinking of wetlands and the lowering of the water table. Forests and meadows were routinely cut down to make way for farmland, while desertification was progressing in the northwest, it said. In the heavily populated southwest, more than 5.3 per cent of land had become “as hard as stone” and useless for cultivation. The authors demanded more be done to protect the environment, “which directly influences the economic development and the social stability of China”. They said poverty in the west, which accounts for half of China’s land mass, was a major factor affecting the depletion of natural resources. Meanwhile, another official report has concluded much of China’s longest and most important river is unfit for drinking. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee revealed the findings of a recent probe of Yangtze River pollution. It found water all along the banks was not only below national standards, but “seriously dangerous”, the China News Service reported. “Although the industries and townships along the Yangtze River Valley use 60 billion tonnes of water [a year] along the shore, it is difficult to find clean drinking water,” said NPC Standing Committee vice-chairman Zou Jianhua.

Categories: Beijing Water

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