China’s Water Challenge – Part 1/3

China has many water problems. There are several Chinese characters for water that explain these problems—much water, little water, dirty water, and muddy water.

“Much water” means floods and they happen every year causing great loses of property and life.

The second is “little water”, which means lack of rain causing rivers and lakes to go dry.  Of over six hundred cities in China, three to four hundred face water shortages.

The third is “dirty water”. Due to the number of people and industries, water pollution is a big problem.

Then “muddy water” causes soil erosion. China loses about 5 billion tons of topsoil a year.

All four of these problems are found in the Yellow River, which is called the “Mother River” or the “River of Sorrow”.

The Yellow River carries more sediment than any river—about 1.6 billion tons annually due to erosion.

Over the last 50 years, extensive flood control measures along the Yellow River have saved many lives and protected property.

Soil conservation has become a long-term strategy. Trees have been planted alongside the Yellow River and its tributaries and this has slowed the erosion about 90%.

Another challenge was the industries along the Yellow River. During the 1990s, industries caused the river to dry up. This was a regular occurrence and a challenge to fix.

Qiu Baoxing, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Construction says, “In urban areas 80% or rivers and lakes are seriously polluted.” Treating the sewage is difficult. To solve this will take a huge investment.

Shanghai, with a population of 17 million is showing the rest of the country how to deal with the water pollution. Shanghai’s river and streams were once choked with pollution.  A billion dollars was spent to deal with the problem.

Discover more about China’s Water Woes


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. 

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