20 Images of China’s Severe Water Pollution

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in News | No Comments

Water pollution has been in the news a lot recently in China. The most notable story that has been circulating of late was the discovery of over 13,000 dead pigs in the Huangpu River outside of Shanghai. It’s another in a long line of stories that highlight the challenges that China faces in managing its waterways as the nation continues its rush to develop.

Reading the coverage of this story led me to think about some of the examples of water pollution I have witnessed in my 6 1/2 years criss-crossing China, documenting some of the country’s most pressing environmental crises. Polluted waterways have not been a rare sight on my travels.

So, here is a selection of what I believe are some of the most severe examples of water pollution I have witnessed. From the Tibetan Plateau to China’s coastal cities, no region is exempt from the scourge of water pollution.

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A Tibetan man walks through a relocation town in Zaduo, in the far interior of the Tibetan Plateau.

A Tibetan man walks through a relocation town in Zaduo, in the far interior of the Tibetan Plateau.

A man empties wastewater into a river on the Tibetan Plateau.

A man empties wastewater into a river on the Tibetan Plateau.

A contaminated pool of water by the side of one of the major highways that runs through the northeastern region of the Tibetan Plateau.

A contaminated pool of water by the side of one of the major highways that runs through the northeastern region of the Tibetan Plateau.

Water pollution in the ancient water town of Wuzhen.

Water pollution in the ancient water town of Wuzhen.

A boy walls past a polluted waterway in Zaduo, in the far interior of the Tibetan Plateau.

A boy walls past a polluted waterway in Zaduo, in the far interior of the Tibetan Plateau.

Prayer flags fly over a bridge in a community on the Tibetan Plateau.

Prayer flags fly over a bridge in a community on the Tibetan Plateau.

A polluted waterway in a small town on the Tibetan Plateau.

A polluted waterway in a small town on the Tibetan Plateau.

Water pollution in the ancient water town of Wuzhen.

Water pollution in the ancient water town of Wuzhen.

Water pollution in a waterway in central Beijing, China.

Water pollution in a waterway in central Beijing, China.

A young boy plays in a water channel in a small town on the Tibetan Plateau.

A young boy plays in a water channel in a small town on the Tibetan Plateau.

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Chickens walk across flood water that has encroached upon industrial land during a flood in Hunan Province. 2010.

Water pollution in Asia: The urgent need for prevention and monitoring – Global Water Forum

Yak carcasses are left discarded in and next to a waterway on the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. 2012

Yak carcasses are left discarded in and next to a waterway on the grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau. 2012

Hight tide in Guangdong Province brings with it trash and refuse which gathers together with small branches in a mangrove ecosystem. 2010

Hight tide in Guangdong Province brings with it trash and refuse which gathers together with small branches in a mangrove ecosystem. 2010

“Nearly 10 million of China’s 120 million hectares (25 million of 295 million acres) of cultivated land have been polluted.” – Circle of Blue

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Severe eutrophication in a lake in Hangzhou. Excess nutrients in the water from pollution fuel algae growth which in turn reduces oxygen levels in the water killing life beneath. 2010

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Discarded cigarette butts in a pond on the outskirts of Beijing. 2012

Cost of Pollution in China: Economic Estimates of Physical Damage – World Bank

A dead fish lies on the beach in the coastal city of Zhanjiang, in southern China. 2012

A dead fish lies on the beach in the coastal city of Zhanjiang, in southern China. 2012

A frog swims next to a discarded plastic bottle in a pond in the town of Sershul, Sichuan Province. 2012

A frog swims next to a discarded plastic bottle in a pond in the town of Sershul, Sichuan Province. 2012

Refuse gathers on the surface of a pond in the worn of Sershul, in Sichuan Province. 2012

Refuse gathers on the surface of a pond in the worn of Sershul, in Sichuan Province. 2012

A Tibetan boy stands near to  a waterway that has been completely clogged by refuse in a town on the Tibetan Plateau. 2012

A Tibetan boy stands near to a waterway that has been completely clogged by refuse in a town on the Tibetan Plateau. 2012

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