China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Over-exploitation of river worsens ecological environment

    JINAN, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The ecological environment of a key Chinese river winding through 26 large and medium-sized cities is worsening due to the excessive exploitation of water resources, a regional water conservancy authority said on Sunday.

    The Haihe River valley, with an area of 320,000 square kilometers, covers Beijing and Tianjin municipalities and the provinces and regions of Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan and Inner Mongolia. The area is suffering from shortage of water resources, with per capita water availability less than 293 cubic meters, which is far less than the world shortage standard of 1,000 cubic meters.

    The water resource in the river has been overused to adapt to the growing population and rapid economic development along the river, according to the Haihe River Water Conservancy Committee under the Ministry of Water Resources.

    Over exploitation leads to severe deterioration of the ecological environment in the river valley. Statistics showed 98 percent of the water resources in the river valley have been exploited, far exceeding the world standard of 40 percent.

    According to a survey conducted by the committee, 60 percent of 21 trunk tributaries of the Haihe River have run dry, with affected length reaching over 200 km.

    Due to lack of surface water, the river valley has to explore underground water to meet the growing needs. At present, a total of 4.2 billion cubic meters of shallow underground water has been over-exploited. Some regions even suffer environmental geological disasters.

    The growing water needs with China's economic development have gone far beyond the supply of water resources and the capacity of the water environment, which is the fundamental cause of the deterioration of the ecological environment, the committee said.

    The river valley should take efficient measures to deal with water pollution, water diversion and strengthen water saving, in a bid to raise efficiency of water utilization and support the sustainable development of the economy, the committee said

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