12 Scary Facts About The Chinese Water Crisis

China drought

Photo: Seti / Shutterstock

China has no good answer for the water crisis that has plagued it for decades. In the years ahead this could become a major crisis for the new superpower.Past efforts to address the water crisis include Mao’s irrigation plans during the Great Leap Forward; the record-sized Three Gorges Dam; the Green Great Wall to stop the desert and restore the Yellow River; and the $62 billion South-North Water Transfer Project.

Now Beijing has made reducing water consumption is one of the key goals of the government’s 12th Five-Year Plan. Meanwhile the water supply is threatened by increasing pollution and use for hydropower.

If business as usual continues, China could become the world’s biggest desert. We picked out some scary facts about the crisis via non profit group China Water Risk.

China is expected to be 199 billion cubic meters short of water by 2030.

30 million environmental refugees are expected to flee water stress by 2020.

Many of those in rural and northern China will have to go find water somewhere else, according to a World Bank report.

11 provinces are in 'water poverty,' including Beijing and Shanghai.

The World Bank sets the water poverty mark at 1,000 cubic meter per person per year, roughly 264,000 gallons.

Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Gansu, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei, and Ningxia all have water scarcity problems.

Over 300 million rural Chinese have no access to safe drinking water.

190 million Chinese regularly drink polluted water, leading to far-above-average mortality rates associated with pollution

53,627 water-related pollution violations were reported from 2008-2009.

Factories, power plants, mines, fertilizers, and pesticides are all big contributors to the problem.

4.05 million hectares of land are irrigated with polluted water.

Polluted crops mean bad crop yields and unhealthy food.

73.8% of groundwater in 8 regions is polluted.

According to the Ministry of Environmental Protection, most of the water in the eight provinces and municipalities of Beijing, Liaoning, Jilin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Hainan, Ningxia, and Guangdong is no longer safe for humans or fish wildlife.

In fact, most water in China is unfit for human contact.

43 per cent of the seven major river basins, 50 per cent of groundwater in cities, and 77 per cent of key lakes and reservoirs are unfit for humans.

Villages in Hebei have to dig 200 meters to find clean water.

Deep wells cost a lot more money than shallow wells. About a decade ago, residents only had to dig 20 to 30 meters deep to find clean water.

90% of grasslands have degraded.

A number of these grasslands in the north now qualify as deserts. Northern provinces are dependent on groundwater, but there is no more groundwater and the soil is completely unarable.

95.6% of China's electricity relies on having water.

Unfortunately, over 40 per cent of electricity use comes from areas with very few water resources.

China's hydro power alone could power both India and Indonesia or both Canada and Australia.

Beijing is doing its best to spend its way out of this (and other) crises

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