China’s Seven River Systems Are All Polluted

11 June, 2011 at 11:15 | Posted in China, Environmental issues | Leave a comment
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By Mu Qing
Epoch Times Staff

The overall environmental situation in China is very grim with all seven major river systems polluted, according to Li Ganjie, Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, speaking at a press conference on June 3 to discuss the Report of the State of the Environment of China 2010.

However, Li refused to comment on recent discussion among the general public that the severity of the current drought is due to the Three Gorges Dam.

Li said the surface water pollution across the country is still relatively grave. China uses a six-grade classification scheme for water quality. Grade 1 is the best, water no worse than grade 3 can be used for drinking, but sometimes requires treatment, and water worse than grade 5 cannot be used for irrigation.

Of 204 rivers and 209 monitoring points, 59.9 percent of rivers were grade 3 or better, 23.7 percent of rivers were grade 4 or 5, and 16.4 percent failed to meet any grade standard.

The seven major water systems are the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Pearl River, the Songhua River, the Huai River, the Hai River, and the Liao River. Overall, the average pollution level is minor, but the Yellow River and Liao River have medium pollution, while Huai River is heavily polluted.

Eutrophication of lakes (reservoirs) is still a prominent problem—an excess of nutrients, for example from fertilizer runoff, causes algal bloom and subsequent problems such as hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Eutrophication was found in 11 of the 26 water bodies tested.

This year, the lower portion of the Yangtze River was hit with the worst drought in 50 years, causing problems for fisheries in the Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, and Hunan Provinces, and leaving many people without drinking water.

Li admitted that the Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi Provinces are currently experiencing severe drought, where water levels are at their lowest position in several large lakes, including Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake, and Hong Lake. This is a problem that has occurred very rarely in recent decades.

2010's biggest release of water from the sluice for flood prevention at the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang - the world's largest hydroelectric project - on July 20, after relentless torrential rains hit Yangtze River areas.

Since the completion of the Three Gorges Dam in 2006, the middle and lower portions of the Yangtze River have suffered drought every year with lake water levels decreasing continuously. When asked if the Three Gorges Dam has contributed to the severity of this year’s drought, Li did not respond.

Li said that in terms of ecological and environmental protection, the impact of the drought is very large. The monitoring data show that water quality has also diminished significantly due to substantial reduction in lake water levels.

Gao Jianguo, a scientist at the Institute of Geology of the China Earthquake Administration, said that the Yangtze River is actually draining water from some of the lakes.

“The operation of the Three Gorges project broke the existing water flow patterns,” Gao said.

Read more: China’s Seven River Systems Are All Polluted | China | Epoch Times

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