How Bad is China’s Water Shortage Problem?

Forestry officials said Monday that China’s wetlands have shrunk almost 9 percent since 2003, painting a dim picture of the country’s water shortage problem. From Reuters:

Since 2003, wetlands sprawling across 340,000 square kilometres – an area larger than the Netherlands – have disappeared, officials of China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) told reporters.

“The investigation shows that China is facing various problems with wetlands protections,” Zhang Yongli, vice director of the forestry body, told a news conference, adding that loopholes in protection laws imperil the shrinking wetlands.

The lost wetland areas have been converted to agricultural lands, swallowed by large infrastructure projects or degraded by climate change, the forestry administration said.

Wetlands lost to infrastructure projects have increased tenfold since the government’s last survey in 2003, Zhang added. [Source]

For Quartz, Adam Pasick writes that the problem is so bad it could turn out the lights:

The problems go far beyond China’s people not having enough to drink. The country’s electricity comes almost exclusively from water-intensive power sources—mostly coal, but also nuclear and hydro power—so that a water shortage could easily lead to a power shortage. Mining coal and turning it into electricity already consumes 17% of China’s water supply. And a plan to expand coal production in provinces such as Inner Mongolia—designed to ease air pollution in the country’s heavily populated eastern seaboard—is expected to increase demand for water there by more than double. [Source]

January 13, 2014 5:32 PM
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Categories: Environment, Society