Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental and societal issues. Our student Julianna Seddio makes this connection in Xi’an, China. This current event was reported on chinadaily.com, on March 11th, 2010, under the title “City governments fined for Yellow River pollution”, by Xinhua. This is likely real news as it is reported here as well as in this World Uyghur Congress news article.

Xi’an was recently fined 400,000 Yuan ($64,000) for polluting a tributary of the Yellow River. The Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) concentration was surpassing the upper limit by 4 mg/L. This was likely a result of dumping from paper mills and other polluting plants. The Yellow River, which is a 5,500 km river and flows through nine provinces in China including Shaanxi, which is where Xi’an is located. It is named the Yellow River due to its yellow coloring caused by high silt concentration. The river frequently floods making the soils of its shoreline abundant in silt and the perfect conditions for farming. The floods however, have been devastating to human life (WWF, n.d.). This event relates to WRE because of its relevance to water resources management, specifically the implementation of dumping laws and minimum permissible doses of toxic substances. This event is of importance to water resources engineering because it focuses on protecting water quality and a major water tributary. The article focuses on the concentration of COD in the river, it may be nice to add what the total load of COD was comparatively to other tributaries.

Figure 1. This figure shows the yellow coloring of the river due to high silt concentrations, when the river floods it makes the surrounding soil rich in nutrients.

Economic, environmental, and societal issues drive the incentives for this fine. The economic effects of the fine will not be huge on Xi’an, who contributes 50% of the gross domestic product of the Shaanxi province, and will not greatly impact the local governments economy, but it is meant to prompt the province to do their part in keeping the water clean. The penalty will be allocated towards an environmental preservation fund for the province. The environmental issues that dictate this event are water pollution in the Yellow River, which is caused by dumping from paper mills and other plants. The environmental issues are being remediated by enforcing fines for polluting the water which will enforce the government to keep the river clean. The Province also has set up 62 water treatment plants in order to minimize pollution. As mentioned previously, the Yellow River frequently floods providing nutrient rich soil for the agricultural industry of Xi’an (Figure 1).  If the river is highly polluted, it is most likely not safe to consume the products of this soil. Therefore, society is benefiting from implementing fines, the safety of the public’s health and welfare is being protected. A journal article published in Advances in Meteorology also states that the increase in COD has not only effected agriculture, but has also had an impact on fish populations in the Weihe tributary (Song, 2015). The fine mentioned in the article can be boiled down to a cause and effect relationship, where the cause is the pollution of the Yellow River, specifically in regards to COD concentration, and the effect being the fine which has given the government incentive to remediate the pollution in the river.


Daily Mail News. China, Norway Hold Dialogue on Human Rights, Rule of Law. 2010.

Song, J., Cheng, D., Li, Q., He, X., Long, Y., & Zhang, B. (2015). An evaluation of river health for the Weihe River in Shaanxi Province. China. Adv. Meteorol, 2015, 1-13.

Yellow River (Huang He); The Cradle of Chinese Civilization. World Wild Life Fund. N.d.

Xinhua. City Governments Fined for Yellow River Pollution. Chinadaily.com. 2010.

Xinhua. Environment watchdog sinks teeth into local governments to curb river pollution. CSR-CHINA. 2010.