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

China has been facing some extreme environmental challenges in the past years. The article “Rural Water, Not City Smog, May Be China’s Pollution Nightmare” from the New York Times was posted Monday April 11, 2016. The article explains how newly released well monitoring suggests that underground water pollution is a serious problem in China. The data indicates that about 30% of the 2103 underground wells monitored were fit for industrial use only. Almost 50% of the wells have water quality worse than that (Figure 1).  Constituents include manganese, fluoride, and triazoles. Researchers say that people within the cities do not see water pollution because cities are digging deeper wells past the contaminated surface wells. This leaves many villages and small towns using the contaminated surface water for domestic use. No information is provided from the number of wells or the water quality the cities are using. There is no numerical comparison of depth or water use conditions. Also there are no alternative suggestions from researchers to improve water quality or any responses from the government pertaining to the situation.


Figure 1: Factory waste being ejected into a stream in Mongolia.


The problem of surface and groundwater pollution needs to be addressed immediately. Not only does pollution damage the Earth, and ecosystems but it puts all Chinese citizens and neighboring countries in big risk. China holds approximately 1.3 billion people, 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of the world’s fresh water. The population is growing in China and urbanization is increasing.  Wang et al. (2008) explain the drastic increase in pollution of surface water quality in urban areas than that of suburban and rural areas (Figure 2).  Water scarcity is very high right now due to the lack of water already available. There is a huge competition for clean drinking water and currently the urban areas are wining. Urban areas are capable to afford to dig deep wells where rural and suburban areas struggle to find clean water which subject them to waterborne diseases. Wang continues to describe how government action needs to take place in these areas. The government needs to focus on the current water supply by reducing consumption and strict water regulations.


URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/12/world/asia/china-underground-water-pollution.html?_r=0



Wang, J., Da, L., Song, K., & Li, B. L. (2008). Temporal variations of surface water quality in urban, suburban and rural areas during rapid urbanization in Shanghai, China. Environmental Pollution, 152(2), 387-393.