Tag Archive for 'Yangtze River'

China Rivers at the Brink of Collapse

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“China’s rulers have traditionally derived their legitimacy from controlling water. The country ranks only sixth in terms of annual river runoff, but counts half the planet’s large dams within its borders. A new report warns that dam building has brought China’s river ecosystems to the point of collapse.

Since the 1950s, China has dammed, straightened, diverted and polluted its rivers in a rapid quest for industrialization. Many of these projects had disastrous environmental, social and economic impacts. The Sanmenxia Dam on the Yellow River for example flooded 660 square kilometers of fertile land and displaced 410,000 people. Yet because it silted up rapidly, the project only generates power at one sixth of its projected capacity.

In the new millennium, the Chinese government realized that its ruthless dam building program threatened to undermine the country’s long-term prosperity and stability. In 2004, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao suspended dam construction on the Nu (Salween) and the Jinsha (upper Yangtze) rivers, including a project on the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. The government created fisheries reserves and strengthened environmental guidelines. In 2011, it even acknowledged the “urgent environmental problems” of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydropower project.”

Read more: Huffington Post


China’s Yangtze River Mysteriously Turns Bright Red

Photo retrieved from: www.takepart.com

The Daily Telegraph reported that the scarlet color may be due to “industrial pollution in silt churned up by recent floods,” according to Chinese officials.

The Yangtze River, the longest one in Asia and the third longest in the world, is a significant part of China’s economy—but its waters suffer from industrial pollution. The Yangtze basin contributes nearly half of the country’s crop production and is the major waterway of China.

Officals have good reason to suspect a chemical culprit in red-river mystery. This isn’t the first time China has seen red: In December 2011, the Jian River turned into a “river of blood” after two small chemical plants illegally dumped red dye into the city’s storm water pipe.

Scroll below for more photos of Chongqing’s scarlet river.”

Read more: Take Part


China’s biggest freshwater lake exceeds warning level

Retrieved from: www.wantchinatimes.com

“Part of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, has seen its water level exceed the warning level, as flooding on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River has been pushing up the water level of the lake.

The water level at the lake’s Huxingzi Station in Jiangxi Province had risen to 19.01 meters as of 8 am Sunday, marking the highest level in the past two years and measuring 0.01 meter above the warning level, said Tan Guoliang, head of the provincial hydrographic bureau.

Affected by flooding on the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the water level of the Jiujiang section of the Yangtze River in Jiangxi province rose to 19.54 meters at 8 am Sunday, over one meter higher than that half a month before, and the water level was continuing to rise, Tan said.

Affected by the rise of the Yangtze River and the rainfall that has increased runoff from local rivers in Jiangxi, the water level of Poyang Lake, located on the southern bank of the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, has been continuously rising.

The provincial flood control and draught relief headquarters have tightened up monitoring efforts on the lake shore and are preparing emergency rescue measures to ensure people’s safety.”

Read more: Global Times


Untapped resource: Safe drinking tap water still elusive in Beijing despite new standards

Photo retrieved from: www.globaltimes.cn

“Beijing’s municipal government last month unveiled its ambitious plan to build two world-class water treatment plants as part of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, which aims to divert water from the Yangtze River valley to the reaches of Yellow River, Huaihe River and Haihe River to ensure the water supply for farming, industry and life in northern China. The scheme, which took effect on July 1, aims to provide drinkable tap water in Beijing from the Changjiang River.

Unlike many Western countries, drinkable tap water isn’t a luxury widely available in China. The Ministry of Health has conceded new standards for drinkable tap water won’t actually take effect nationwide until 2015, a deadline that even those optimistic are still skeptical about. Among these standards is increasing the number of tap water quality indicators in Beijing to 106 from 35, putting the city on par with many developed countries.

Thirsting for quality

Beijing’s water authorities say current standards for drinking water have been in place since 2007. “All tap water in Beijing meets quality standards,” said Cheng Jing, head of the Beijing Water Authority. In April, Cheng conceded the capital is expected to face a water shortage of 1.3 billion cubic meters this year, accounting for one-third of the city’s annual water usage.”

Read more: Globaltimes

China declares Three Gorges hydro project complete

Photo retrieved from: www.mtholyoke.edu

“The construction of the world’s biggest hydropower plant began in 1994 and its first generating unit was connected to the grid in July 2003. Official news agency Xinhua said it has already generated a total of 564.8 billion kilowatt-hours, saving nearly 200 million tonnes of coal a year.

But the project, located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze river, cost a total of 254 billion yuan ($39.99 billion), four times the original estimate, and another 123.8 billion yuan has been spent on “follow-up work”.

The project’s 185-metre dam and 600-km reservoir have forced the relocation of at least 1.3 million residents, and the government has acknowledged that earthquake and landslide risks have also increased in the region.

Hydropower construction slowed after building work on the dam was completed in 2006, with several large-scale projects vetoed because of the soaring costs of handling displaced people and protecting the environment.”

Read more: Reuters


China’s Looming Conflict Between Energy and Water

Photo retrieved from: www.e360.yale.edu

“Yet, in expanding coal-industry bases in west China, one crucial challenge has so far received far less attention than it deserves: Coal-based industries are massively water-intensive (in fact, coal mining, coal-based power generation, and petrochemical processing together account for more than one-fifth of China’s total water usage). And much of western China is already short on water — think Gobi desert and camels, as opposed to Pearl River Delta rice paddies. “The west of China is an environmentally fragile area,” says Professor Wang Xiujun, who conducts research on climate and precipitation jointly for the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and the University of Maryland. “There’s not much water to spare.”

When new industry comes to town, water is secured by tapping local lakes and rivers, pumping groundwater, and constructing reservoirs to capture rainwater, which diverts its normal flow and reabsorption into the soil. All three have unintended environmental consequences, says Sun Qingwei, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace China and a former government scientist based in western Gansu province.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

China to flood nature reserve with latest Yangtze dam

Photo retrieved from: www.reuters.com

“China’s Three Gorges Corp. on Thursday marked the beginning of construction for a dam that will flood the last free-flowing portion of the middle reaches of the Yangtze, the country’s longest river.

The 30 billion yuan ($4.75 billion) Xiaonanhai dam is decried by environmentalists because it will flood a nature reserve designed to protect about 40 species of river fish.

Completion of the dam would turn the middle section of the Yangtze into a series of reservoirs, leaving “no space for fish”, said environmentalist Ma Jun, who has been active for over two years in trying to prevent the dam.

“This is the last one, the last section in 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) along the Yangtze that was left for endangered or local fish species. This would be their last habitat,” Ma told Reuters.”

Read more: Reuters


Dam proposal opens the floodgates of debate

Photo retrieved from: www.usa.chinadaily.com

“In areas where rain is scarce it is common to see people storing water to get them through dry seasons.

Using the same principle, officials want to dam a major lake in Jiangxi province that has shrunk noticeably but their plan has run into opposition.

Their proposal to dam Poyang Lake took a major step forward this month when it won the backing of the Hydroelectricity Planning Institute.

Since 2008, the eastern Chinese province has strongly lobbied leaders in Beijing, lauding the project as a way to tackle drought as well as adjustments to the water flow caused by the massive Three Gorges Dam upstream.

But critics of the 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) plan say authorities have played down the potentially disastrous ecological impact that a dam might bring to China’s largest freshwater lake. It is also a crucial winter habitat for endangered migrating birds protected under international conventions.”

Read more: China Daily

China detains Korean ship over Yangtze chemical leak-Xinhua

Photo retrieved from: www.energygreen.net

“A Chinese maritime court on Saturday ordered the detention of a South Korean cargo ship over a chemical leak that polluted the Yangtze River, contaminating drinking water in parts of Jiangsu province, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The country’s second water pollution scare in a month sparked a run on bottled water.

The court ordered the cargo ship, Gloria, to be detained at the city of Nantong and set a bail of 20.6 million yuan ($3.3 million), Bu Xiaofang, a spokesman of the Zhenjiang municipal government, was quoted as saying late on Saturday.

Officials in Zhenjiang in Jiangsu province said phenol, an acid compound used to make nylon and detergents, was found in its water source last week. The pollution caused tap water in some parts of the city to emit a pungent smell, sending panicked residents to stockpile bottled water from supermarkets.”

Read more: Reuters


Lake’s Deterioration Needs Urgent Attention

Dongting Lake. Retrieved from: www.chinatourstravel.com

“The situation on Dongting Lake, once China’s largest freshwater lake, remains grim despite growing awareness on ecological conservation, a local environment official has warned.

“I often tell people that our mother lake is seriously ill and needs urgent attention,” said Zhao Qihong, director of the administration for East Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve.

A number of factors are to blame, he said, with heavy pollution and intense human activities the two biggest culprits, while overexploitation and unscientific development has hastened the lake’s deterioration.

“There will always be a conflict between preservation and development,” Zhao said, explaining that many residents around the lake still rely heavily on its resources to make a living.

Extreme weather such as severe droughts and floods in recent years have also taken their toll on eco-diversity, while water projects on the Yangtze River may have led to changes in the water temperature and the lake’s flux.

Authorities have stepped up protection of the lake in recent years, he said, including ordering more than 200 polluting factories to close down. Government-led projects have also helped ‘land’ most all-year fishermen, who put a huge burden on fish stocks and whose number used to top 6,000.”

Read more: China Daily