The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law series
Edited by Paul Martin, Li Zhiping, Qin Tianbao, Anel Du Plessis, Yves Le Bouthillier and Angela Williams
Chapter 10: Drinking Water Security in China: A Critical Justice Issue
Ke Jian1 10.1 DRINKING WATER SECURITY IS THREATENED BY WATER POLLUTION IN CHINA After more than two decades of two-digit economic growth, the great challenge facing China now is to break the relationship between fast economic development and the deterioration of environment. Rapid industrialization and urbanization has left much of China’s water, air, land and other environmental elements polluted to a dangerous degree. Because many rivers, lakes and other waters have become polluted with various types of effluent, water security is threatened by the devastation of water sources. This is particularly so with drinking water sources, which have been increasingly threatened by industrial pollution. One of the most crucial issues both for urban residents and rural farmers in China is to get access to clean and safe drinking water. Because most of China’s drinking water supply comes from untreated water sources such as rivers, lakes, pools and underground aquifers, a drinking water crisis is imminent in many parts of China. In 2005, SEPA (the State Environmental Protection Agency) received reports of 76 pollution incidents nationwide, many of which took their toll on the water bodies that provide both rural and urban drinking water (Liu, 2006). China’s seven main river basins, including the Yangtze River basin and Yellow River basin, are crossprovincial. They cover a total area of 4.37 million square kilometers, amounting to 44% of the total territory of China and involving 29 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. Located in these areas are 88% of the country’s population, and 80%...
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