Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects engineering hydrology and hydraulics with global, economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Mercedes Acevedo makes this connection here…

To Conserve Water, China Raises Prices for Top Users1 reported by Brian Spegele and Wilian Kaze from Wall Street Journal states reported in January 8, 2014. This issue relates to hydrology, in how it has been distributed and the quality of the water in China. China is planning to increase the payment of water to the largest consumers of water, around 5% of households. Normally China’s communities only pay 0.5% of their disposable income compared to the US 2.8% or Australia’s 8.6%. China’s party is increasing prices in the hope to reduce environmental impacts and China’s economic sustainability. Higher prices hopefully decrease water consumption, increasing their water resources. However the heavy consumers are China’s main industries such as steel mills which can be a hard hit to China’s economy. The price however is good news to China’s water resource management, the increase prices means investments in water treatment. This will ultimate improve water quality which need to comply with China’s new environmental reform regulation that can be implemented in 2015. From my engineering education it seems as though the information is accurate. Wang, Xia, Fu and Sheng (2004) research states that the water qualities of China’s eastern reservoirs in Dongjian River have become worse since 19982. It was also stated in Zhou and Tol (2005) that China majority of water use is in industry and agriculture3. However there are some key points that were left out. The extent of China’s water crisis was not mentioned which can lead to the necessity of new water use laws. There also did not mention the effect the new water law has on agriculture. Agriculture stated in Zhou and Tol article is the highest consumer of water. This can be a big blow for China’s food production when it comes to its every growing population.

China’s water issue is not only a water resource issue but a political, environmental and even social issue. Raising prices ultimately give money to water resource management efforts and lower water consumption. Hence with efforts water quality can increase in which improve river and lake qualities in China. Industries to avoid water prices can even treat water to reuse. This is a political case in the sense of government’s involvement in water prices. Water resources have become crucial to China to the point of government interference. Socially this is an issue sense it forces people to change people’s water consumption to avoid high prices. This could change water recreation in China and the treatment of water resources such as lakes and rivers. A connection is made in Peng, Tian, Tian and Xiang article  Education and Sustainable Development4, where they try to find a connection between government regulation, public participation and environmental pollutants which includes waste water. They state that government change in regulation changes environmental pollution.  However it is not the same case for the reverse notion, environmental pollution is not the cause for government regulation. However public participation, government regulation and environmental pollution have a strong relationship. Hence as public participation and government regulation increase, environmental pollution will decrease.

A stream turned white due to waste water discharge from nearby mining industries in Yunnan Province, China.

A stream turned white due to waste water discharge from nearby mining industries in Yunnan Province, China.

Farmers using the polluted stream in Yunnan Province, China to irrigate their farms.

Farmers using the polluted stream in Yunnan Province, China to irrigate their farms.


Spegele B., Kazer W. To Conserve Water, China Raises Prices for Top Users. Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303870704579297410328066466?KEYWORDS=water+resource&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303870704579297410328066466.html%3FKEYWORDS%3Dwater%2Bresource. Published January 8, 2014. Accessed January 18, 2014.

Wang Y., Xia H., Fu J., Sheng G. Water quality change in reservoirs in Shenzhen, China: detection using LANDSAT/TM data. Science of The Total Environment.2004; 328(1-3):195-206. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969704001007. Accessed January 19, 2014.

Zhou Y., Tol R. Water Use in China’s Domestic, Industrial and Agricultural Sectors: An Empirical Analysis.June 12, 2005. http://www.fnu.zmaw.de/fileadmin/fnu-files/publication/working-papers/WD_ZhouFNU67.pdf.Accessed January 19, 2014

Pen W.B., Tian K., Tian Y.H, Xiang G.C. Education and Sustainable Development. Perspectives of Innovations, Economics and Business. 2011;8(2):53-56. http://academicpublishingplatforms.com/downloads/pdfs/pieb/volume8/201106271836_10_PIEB_V8_CH_Wen-BinPeng_et_al_Causality_Analysis.pdf. 2011. Accessed January 19, 2014

River turns white from pollution in China. NBC News website. http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/news/2013/04/02/17568385-river-turns-white-from-pollution-in-china?lite. Accessed January 20, 2014