Beijing Water

Quenching China’s thirst

Yongchen Wang, China Dialogue
February 2, 2007

On January 3, 2007, the level of the Yangtze River was seen to plummet at the point where it passes through the city of Shashi, in central China’s Hubei province, two metres below the average for this time of year. A similar story is seen repeated throughout the middle and lower reaches of the river; water levels are falling to an extent not seen in 140 years, when records first began. … Our rivers and lakes are drying up, and it is a disaster not only for humanity but also the planet on which we live. Water management in China is spread across many different government departments; water resources, environmental protection, fishing, forestry, shipping, urban construction and mining all involve water, but each have their own department. The Ministry of Water Resources has established seven committees that oversee major waterways, most of which are sub-ministerial administrations. These do not have enough power, especially when dealing with provincial branches of the ministries, to manage the full length of China’s rivers. So who should be in charge? … But we cannot simply blame the Three Gorges dam, as some media reports have done. Global warming and overexploitation of water resources are to blame. We must all play a role in the solution: we need managers to oversee the rivers, scientists to propose plans of action and the public to participate in the process. With water levels at a 140-year low, there is no more time to waste. Read the full story.

Categories: Beijing Water

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