On September 23, the famous hydro-geologist Professor Chunmiao Zheng of the Center for Water Resources gave a public lecture at Peking University about the water crisis in China. Entitled "Can China cope with its worsening water crisis?” the lecture attracted more than 200 university teachers and students.
Zheng pointed out that the world is facing an increasingly serious water crisis and the status of China is particularly worrying due to the reduction of available fresh water resources, worsening pollution, and land subsidence because of groundwater overuse.
In 2007, the State Council estimated that by 2030, China’s overall usage of waterwill reach 700-800 bcm, but the supply will only be 800-900. A recent survey carried out by the Ministry of Water Resources shows that among the 660 cities in China, over 440 are facing water deficiency and over 110 are in severe lack of water. It also reports that a highly 90 percent of underground water are contaminated in different levels.
Possible solutions include efficient water-saving measures, irrigation efficiency improvement, water desalination, water price adjustment and water transfer. Nevertheless, “any comprehensive solution requires consideration of social, political, economic and institutional factors,” according to Zheng.
For instance, the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, an important strategic measure in the optimization of water resources distribution of China, will cross Yangtze River, Huaihe River, Yellow River and Haihe River, aiming to reach a total diversion water of 45 bcm or more. It will face challenges in environmental and ecosystem issues, energy consumption and social impact on displaced people.
In part two of his lecture, Zheng presented the basics of groundwater and his opinions on how to tackle groundwater pollution and the rational exploitation of groundwater based on his field survey and research experience.
Chunmiao Zheng is currently a professor and director of the Center for Water Resources at the Peking University College of Engineering. He is also a professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Alabama. He has presided over more than 30 U.S. government-funded research projects and published more than 100 papers. He authored the monograph, Applied Contaminant Transport Modeling, and developed the standard groundwater pollution modeling software MT3D and MT3DMS, which has been widely used in more than 100 countries.