China Roundup: Water Quality Improving, Deadly Storms Cause Landslides and Dam Breach, Beihatan Dam Construction Commences, Polluted River Media Stunt, South-North Transfer: Farms Closed and More

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Uneven Progress in Reducing Water Pollution

China's water quality is improving overall but progress is uneven, with some regions finding it hard to meet the annual quality improvement targets, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said Monday. Xinhua reported August 14th that in the first half of the year, the proportion of monitored surface water reaching Grade III or above, which could be used for drinking, rose to 70 percent across the country, up 1.2 percentage points from the same period last year. The proportion of water deemed "inferior to Grade V," the worst in China's water quality grading system and "too polluted for any purpose," stood at 8.8 percent, down 1.7 percentage points from the same period last year. The country has set a target of lowering that to 8.4 percent this year.

Eight regions, including Hebei, Jilin and Fujian provinces, reported a drop in the proportion of high-quality water, while five regions, including Heilongjiang and Jiangxi provinces, reported a rise in the proportion of polluted water.

In June this year, China's National People’s Congress passed a revised Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law to go into effect on 1st January 2018. The law strengthened government responsibility and supervision, and stipulates that emergency and back-up water resources should be set up in cities with single water sources and governments above the county-level should make public information of drinking water quality at least once a quarter.

In Media Stunt, Reporter Drinks River Water to Prove It's Clean

In other water pollution news, and as part of a live-streamed state-sponsored swim event in the Zhujiang River last month, a reporter said in front of a live camera that the river water looked clean and transparent and drank a few mouthfuls to prove his point. Zhujiang is the third longest river in China and its mouth is located at the most industrialized and polluted Pearl River Delta. The stunt has been criticized by other journalists as propaganda in Chinese social media.

Deadly Storms, Landslides, Dam Breach

Heavy rainfall last week caused deadly landslides killing 24 people in Sichuan province, China.org reports. The mountain floods also damaged 5 kilometers of road and five bridges, and inundated about 12 hectares of farmland. Direct economic losses from the disaster, which affected 577 people from 157 households, were estimated at $23.5 million USD.

On 12th August more than 700 residents of a central China village were evacuated as a dam was breached in Hunan province. China Daily reported that at a village in Yueyang County, rain-triggered landslides clogged the floodway of a dam, causing a surge of water in the dam and collapsing the dam wall. The local authority reported that dozens of houses were flooded, but there were no casualties as all villagers were evacuated in time.

Also in Hunan Province, floods reportedly trapped hundreds in the county of Pingjiang and the city of Jishou. Landslides occurred in Luxi county.

Beihatan Dam Construction Begins

China Three Gorges Corp. (CTGC) has begun construction of the 16-GW Baihetan hydropower station located on the lower reaches of the Jinsha River, between the borders of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in Southwest China. According to 2016 estimates from China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the project will cost about US$6.3 billion. The first group of units are expected to begin operating in 2021. (Hydroworld)

Hubei Closes 134 Largescale Farms to Protect South to North Transfer Project

Central China's Hubei Province has closed 134 large-scale farms to protect the water source for China's south-to-north water diversion project, local authorities said. (Xinhua). In July 2016, Shiyan City, home to Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Hanjiang River, one of the water sources of the water diversion project, divided the city's livestock and poultry farming areas into three classes: banned areas, restricted feeding areas and feeding areas.

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