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Water Supply in a Mega-City

A Political Ecology Analysis of Shanghai

Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang

With the increasing threat of depleted and contaminated water supplies around the world, this book provides a timely and much needed analysis of how cities should manage this precious resource. Integrating the environmental, economic, political and socio-cultural dimensions of water management, the authors outline how future mega-city systems can maintain a high quality of life for its residents.
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Chapter 3: The behaviour of the Changjiang

Michael Webber, Jon Barnett, Brian Finlayson and Mark Wang


Shanghai is critically dependent on the Changjiang, China’s largest river, for its water supply. The flow is very stable from year to year but has strong seasonal variation with 70 per cent of flow in the summer season. The total flow is robust in the face of significant human influences. The annual flow is 900 billion cubic metres and only 0.55 per cent of this is taken for Shanghai’s water supply. No significant threats exist to the total volume of water available but there are threats from seasonal low flows, diversions of water to other users, deteriorating water quality and salt water intrusions that affect the main water supply intakes for Shanghai. The operation of the Three Gorges Dam has induced changes to the monthly flow regime, reducing flows in October to fill the dam before the low flow season and raising flows January to March as that water is used for power generation.

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