UBC Undergraduate Research

Review of water scarcity in Northern China : why is the water scarce, and what can be done about it? Lam, Victoria


China has an uneven geographical distribution of water; while water resources in the central and southern regions tends to be ample, the water scarcity in the North is alarming—many Northern provinces have less than 500m³ of water per capita and are classified as water-scarce. Water is scarce in the north due to its naturally arid climate (which is exacerbated by climate change), increased water pollution, overexploitation of water resources and water wastage. To mitigate the water crisis, the Chinese government has implemented the South-North Water Diversion Project (SNDP) which physically transfers water from the central Yangtze Drainage Basin to the three drainage basins in the north (Hai, Huai and Yellow); there are many issues posed by the SNDP, namely water pollution and reduction in the Yangtze River Delta, but the project is already under construction and it is well-agreed that the SNDP will indeed alleviate the water crisis in the North. Other mitigation strategies proposed by researchers include desalination of water, water pricing and international food trade, but more studies will need to be conducted in these areas to investigate their socioeconomic and technical feasibilities.

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