Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Edward Shao, makes this connection in Hangzhou, China. This current event was reported in China Dialogue, on October 1, 2012, under the title “China’s thirst for water transfer,” by Gong Jing and Cui Zheng. This news source is reliable and trustworthy. ChinaDialogue is not a periodical news source, but rather an independent, non-profit organization located in London and Beijing. The organization focuses on environmental issues occurring in China and sourced this article from two on-the ground reporters, one working at Caixin New Century Weekly, and one at Caixin. ChinaDialogue Editorial Advisory Board consists of professors located in both China and the U.S. and caters to both English-speaking and Mandarin-speaking readers.

Figure 1. Hangzhou West Lake

Figure 2. River running from the Hangzhou River runs red from pollution, 2014

This article explores the process of urban water diversion projects developing in China and specifically, Hangzhou. The ongoing urbanization occurring across the country of 1.4 billion is requiring water resources projects on a massive scale. Hangzhou is widely known as a cultural gem of China, with its West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. When announced in 2012, the Qiandao Lake project had a budget of 20-billion yuan and was initiated to divert water from Qiandao Lake to a reservoir Xianlin county, which is closer to downtown Hangzhou. This was a welcome relief for eight-million Hangzhou residents at the time, who previously relied on the Qiangtang River for most of its drinking water. Due to industrial development along the river, water quality was increasingly becoming threatened. Similar water transfer projects are desperately needed across China’s other cities. WRE information that was not found from this news source includes numbers and details about the Qiandao Lake Project, like dimensions of the project, diversion techniques used, and materials used in the endeavor.

With wide-scale urban development and industrialization having transformed China in the last two decades, rivers and bodies of water have come under threat from industrial pollution. This has paralleled the period of industrialization the U.S. underwent in the mid-1800s that introduced environmental degradation as well. In the middle of this urban development, water resources engineering increasingly became a top priority for Chinese bureaucrats, and the former Paramount Leader of China, Hu Jintao, was initially a water resources engineer (Economist, 2013). Investing in the development of green infrastructure and wastewater treatment is now a top priority for the current Communist Party Administration under Xi Jinping, and the government acknowledges this will require substantial funding (Ping, 2017). In the past 32 years, China’s average annual GDP growth has been a whopping 15.8%, and its population has increased by 700-800 million in the past 10 years (Jing, Zheng). With this rapid economic development inevitably appeared environmental degradation as a byproduct of industrial processes. For the Chinese government today, ensuring the harmony and happiness of its citizens will require balancing economic development with stewardship of the country’s water resources. Since March 2013, local residents have repeatedly complained of a “strange taste in the tap water” multiple times when Hangzhou was dependent on only the Qiangtang River. This news coming from a second source only serves to underscore the sheer importance of water resource diversification and development for Hangzhou.

 

References:

Hangzhou Weekly (2013). Hangzhou to invest US $1.7bn in Qiandao lake water diversion project. Hangzhou Weekly. Retrieved April 19th, from http://hangzhouweekly.com/society/hangzhou-to-invest-us1-7bn-in-qiandao-lake-water-diversion-project

Jing, G., Zheng, C. (2012). China’s Thirst for Water Transfer. China Dialogue. Retrieved April 17th, 2018, from https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/4722

Ping, C.K. (2017). 19th Party Congress: Xi Jinping affirms China’s commitment on green development. StratisTimes. Retrieved April 18th, 2018 from http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/19th-party-congress-xi-jinping-says-china-must-cooperate-with-other-nations-on

The Economist. (2013). Water in China-Desperate measures. The Economist. Retrieved April 18th, 2018, from https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21587789-desperate-measures

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