News / Asia

China’s Other Pollution Problem: Water

Turbid Debate over China’s Wateri
X
January 23, 2013 4:49 PM
William Ide takes a look recent changes in Beijing's approach to an often neglected environmental concern: water pollution.

In Beijing, the long avoided public debate over water quality and quantity is coming to a head.

William Ide
Video Transcription:
BEIJING — When chemicals recently contaminated a river in China’s northern Shanxi province, it took authorities five days to report the incident. While the mayor offered an apology and chemical plant officials were dismissed, the spill ended up affecting drinking water in several cities downstream.
 
It also dealt another blow to public confidence in the government.
 
Official statistics indicate China has around 1,700 water pollution accidents each year, and up to 40 percent of the country’s rivers are seriously polluted.
 
Not only are natural water sources polluted, but they are becoming scarce as well.
 
Beijing is one place where the debate over water quality and quantity is coming to a head.
 
“Of the more than 100 rivers that there are now in Beijing, only two or three can be used for tap water – and those are the ones that the government in Beijing is protecting," says Zhao Feihong, a water researcher at the Beijing Healthcare Association. "Those are the ones that we can use water from, the rest of the rivers if they have not dried up, then they are polluted by discharge.”
 
Zhao and her husband, who is also a water researcher, recently became the focus of state-media online outlets after confessing they have not let Beijing’s tap water touch their lips in 20 years.
 
Their story drew attention just as Beijing’s city government began releasing water quality statistics – long treated as a state secret – for the first time.
 
According to Zhao, the move is a step in the right direction.
 
“The fact that it can be disclosed is an improvement for the common people who will better understand the water that they drink," she says. "So this is a relatively good thing, but I think that publicizing this figure is not enough.”
 
Instead of periodically releasing statistics, Zhao says, the government should let the public know immediately what to do if something affects the drinking water.
 
Hao Yungang became a part of Beijing’s water debate after publishing photos of gunk gathering in his faucet on China’s Twitter-like Weibo micro-blogging service.
 
“I did not anticipate that the level of interest would be so high," says Hao. "But these days, people have higher and higher expectations about the quality of life, whether it is water, food safety, pollution or even traffic.”
 
Like many in Beijing, Hao says he uses tap water to wash dishes and filtered water to cook.
 
While he believes officials who say Beijing’s water is safe at its source, he knows that what happens between the treatment plant and his home is another matter.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Stephen Real from: Colmbia USA
January 24, 2013 4:02 AM
The Chinese Communist Party should not wonder why their dynastic rule by party members are in question. Look what they do to the people all for greed and profit. What a shame.


by: Dan from: China
January 24, 2013 1:23 AM
". . . up to 40 percent of the country’s rivers are seriously polluted."

This kind of meaningless statistic isn't good journalism. Essentially all the country's major rivers servicing major populations are seriously polluted.


by: Charlie from: China
January 23, 2013 8:19 PM
What an evil government! Not to mention your bad governance, that you have hided the data for so long in defiance of your own people's health is intolerant

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid