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

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra 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.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid