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Old 08-03-2015, 09:38 PM
XT XT is offline
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How bad is the water crisis in China, really?

I was watching what has become one of my favorite channels on YouTube, China Uncensored, and the commentator, Chris Chappell was talking about the water crisis in China. I did some searching on Google and there are a ton of links about it (such as this), but it's hard to gauge how bad it really is. Some say it's pretty bad, others that it's not so bad or manageable and that China is taking steps to rectify the problem. Chris mentions a large water project to move water from the presumably wetter south to the drier north, but says that this will only be of limited value (besides stating that much of the water in the country is heavily polluted). I was wondering what the straight dope is. China has a HUGE population, and if they are really having such a sever crisis how will this impact the country? I mean, nothing is more vital than water except maybe air (though that seems pretty bad in China as well). Have there been any updates or changes since the video in 2014? Has China gotten a lot of rain this year (I know that parts of India and other Asian countries have, but others are in drought) and has this helped at all?

Last edited by XT; 08-03-2015 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 08-03-2015, 10:19 PM
jimbuff314 jimbuff314 is offline
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Here's a link to a Wall Street Journal article from January that reports on it as well, mentioning many of the things your The Diplomat link does. "Looks pretty bad" is an opinion. Could be applied, but I'm not in China and consequently do not have the straight dope.
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Old 08-04-2015, 12:50 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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This one reason China holds so tightly to their control over Tibet.

The snow-covered Tibetan plateau is the source of the water for many of the rivers that flow into China. And that is a big part of China's water supply. China could not afford to be dependent on an independent Tibet controlling a big part of their wter supply.
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Old 08-05-2015, 08:46 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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I lived in China until recently. Tap water is not potable, but bottled water is widely available. There was a dispensing machine for drinking water (bring your own jug) outside the local police station, but I could never figure out how to operate it. Drought is more a "tomorrow" problem there than a "today" problem, kind of like in most of the American west. I lived in Jinan, a city famous for its many springs, so the problem never seemed that imminent.
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Old 08-05-2015, 09:53 PM
China Guy China Guy is offline
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The Yellow River runs dry every year. It's a problem - especially in northern china
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Old 08-06-2015, 01:03 AM
Senegoid Senegoid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by China Guy View Post
The Yellow River runs dry every year. It's a problem - especially in northern china
Has this been historically the case, or is this a recent thing?
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Old 08-06-2015, 02:49 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Horatio Hellpop View Post
I lived in China until recently. Tap water is not potable, but bottled water is widely available.
I used tap water for coffee, ice cubes, cooking, brushing my teeth, and making iced tea. It's safe enough, and many Nanjingers do the same. I do use purchased carboy water for making sparkling water, though, because I drink lots and lots of that and don't want to take too many chances!

I do have a giant, whole house water filter, though, and trust me, you don't want to see what the filter looks like when they change it every year. Yuck!
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Old 08-06-2015, 12:57 PM
SirRay SirRay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senegoid View Post
Has this been historically the case, or is this a recent thing?
Certainly within living memory:

8 Mighty Rivers Run Dry From Overuse
Quote:
Since 1972, the Yellow River has frequently run dry before reaching the sea, thanks to extensive diversion, largely for agriculture. In 1997, the lower Yellow River did not flow for a whopping 230 days. Such a dramatic decrease in water has choked off the ecologically rich delta, which is also eroding due to loss of silt.
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Old 08-09-2015, 06:22 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
I do have a giant, whole house water filter, though, and trust me, you don't want to see what the filter looks like when they change it every year. Yuck!
I'd be more interested in what is actually in it than what it looks like.

I have well water, which is tested regularly. It's potable, healthy, and has a lower bacteria count than many municipalities... but it is also heavy with minerals. Our water filters look pretty grotty and could probably double as a form of iron ore, but the water is fine. In fact, you could drink it fresh out of the ground without the filters, it would just taste nasty to modern First World palates. (I've actually had potable well water that tasted worse, but that was a few decades ago.)
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:17 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I have well water, which is tested regularly. It's potable, healthy, and has a lower bacteria count than many municipalities... but it is also heavy with minerals. Our water filters look pretty grotty and could probably double as a form of iron ore, but the water is fine. In fact, you could drink it fresh out of the ground without the filters, it would just taste nasty to modern First World palates. (I've actually had potable well water that tasted worse, but that was a few decades ago.)
I grew up with a shallow well, and it was the most disgusting water in the world, and over time, stained everything with its disgustingness. Overall, though, I have an excellent impression of the well water in my home state of Michigan, where I depend on them for survival in most places that I camp. Sometimes there's a slight iron taste, but it doesn't bother me in the least.
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Old 08-10-2015, 12:57 AM
Mijin Mijin is online now
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The way I heard it, water is too cheap (subsidized) particularly in the arid north, so industry in particular is far too wasteful with it. So it's a largely self-inflicted problem.

Should there be major droughts, this policy / culture would probably change pretty fast. The only question is, would it change quickly enough, and how economically damaging such a transition might be.
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:53 AM
XT XT is offline
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Zombie thread, but Seeker Daily has a new video on this so thought I'd put it in. If the 3 minutes are too long to watch, the TLDW summary is that the water crisis seems to be accelerating in China, and unless something is done they are saying China could be at the extremely stressed point by 2030....or earlier. They talk a bit about the huge water project to move water from the less stressed south to the north, and how it's had little effect on the crisis. This looks like one of the things that could bring the country to it's knees if they don't get a handle on it...and they have know about this for over 50 years now, so it seems unlikely they will just figure it out.
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