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Rivers and Lakes Identified for Environmental Protection

SEPA has identified five rivers  - Huai He, Hai He, Liao He, Chang Jiang (Yangtze River), and Huang He (Yellow River) - and three lakes - Tai Lake (Tai Hu), Chao Lake (Chao Hu), Dian Chi - for special environmental attention. 

Five Rivers

Three Lakes
Huai He | Hai He | Liao He | Yangtze | Yellow  Tai Hu | Chao Hu  | Dian Chi


Information About the Five Rivers


Map of the Rivers

Huai He - Th Huai river flows south of the Yellow River through Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu Provinces,  helping drain the North China Plain between the Huang Ho (Yellow River) and the Yangtze. It is 660 miles (1,100 km) long and drains an area of 67,000 square miles (174,000 square km). The Huai Re flows eastward through a very flat plain into Hongze Hu (lake) in Jiangsu province, and from there it drains through many small channels into the Yangtze River. Most of its contamination comes from industrial sources. See also: 

Hai He -- The Hai River proper is very short - only about 43 miles (70 km) long - running from the city of Tianjin to the Bohai Sea.  It is formed from the confluence of a number of rivers which run from the mountains to the north and west.  The surrounding area is quite flat and flood-prone, and the region does not have enough water year round to meet local needs for industry and agriculture.   Industry is being encouraged to recycle water to help relieve the problem, but this will probably not be enough to reduce the serious pollution in this river. Major projects to bring water from southern rivers are under consideration.  See also:

Liao He - The Liao River system drains the southern part of the Liao and Sungari plains of central Northeast China, in Liaoning Province and Inner Mongolia. The river is about  836 miles (1,345 km) long. The region is very flat, and the Liao frequently floods in the summer. As well as being very heavily polluted from industrial sources, the Liao carries a heavy load of silt. At this time, the Liao is the most polluted river in China, followed by the Hai He. Efforts to control pollution include the closure of many factories with obsolete technology and the construction of wastewater treatment plants. See also:

Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) -- The Yangtze is the longest river in Asia (6,300 km or 3,900 miles.) Its source is in the Kunlun Mountains in Qinghai Province. From there it flows south through Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, and then east across central China through Hubei, Anhui and Jiansu provinces. It flows into the South China Sea just north of Shanghai. The Yangtze runs through the famous Three Gorges area between the cities of Chongqing and Yichang. After that point, the river has descended to a lower elevation and is navigable for shipping. 

The Yangtze, together with its tributaries and the Grand Canal (which links it to Yellow River) is an essential part of the transportation system of south China. The Three Gorges Dam, which is scheduled for completion in 2009, is just above the city of Yichang. This dam will generate much-needed electricity and help control flooding, but changes to the river will have significant environmental impacts.  While the Yangtze is not nearly as polluted as some other Chinese rivers, changing the speed of the flow will cause pollutants to remain in the river longer, especially above the dam. Efforts to control pollution include industrial and municipal wastewater treatment, and reforestation of the river banks. See also:

Huang He (Yellow River) -  The Huang He is the second largest river in China, at 3,390 miles (5,460  km.) It begins in the Kunlun Mountains in Qinghai Province and flows east, then northeast, through Gansu Province. It flows between the Ordos and Gobi Deserts, and then south through steep valleys of yellow loamy soil (loess) between Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. Silt picked up here gives the river its distinctive color. It is estimated that the Yellow picks up a billion tonnes of silt. 

The river then runs east through Henan and Shandong provinces, through a flat, heavily populated region. The Chinese have tried to control the Yellow's flooding for millennia with the use of dikes. This, combined with the settling out of the loess sediment, has raised the level of the river above the surrounding land - in some places as much as 20 meters (70 ft.)  Disastrous floods still occur. The Yellow River eventually reaches the Bohai Sea, creating a massive delta of its sediment.

Efforts to improve the quality of the Yellow River focus on reducing erosion in loess area by increasing forestation. In recent years, the flow of the Yellow has been low, aggravating the problem of municipal and industrial pollution. See also: 

More information about the Five Rivers:

 

Information About the Three Lakes

Map of the Lakes

Tai Lake (Tai Hu) -- Tai Hu is the third largest freshwater lake of China. It is located in the southern part of Jiangsu Province, just west of Shanghai and the coast. The crescent-shaped lake has a surface area of around 2400 square km.

The surrounding area is a densely populated fertile delta plain with many small lakes, ponds, streams and man-made canals, including the Grand Canal. The inflowing water comes mainly from mountains to the west and southwest, and the out flowing channels exit from the east coast of the lake. Several channels connect the lake with the Yangtze, all of which are controlled by dams to maintain the lake water level.

Tai Hu is famous for its abundant production of fish and crabs as well as for its beauty. It is a major source of water for this rather industrialized region, and pollution from industrial waste, sewage, and agricultural runoff is serious. There is contamination from heavy metals, and the lake water is also highly eutrophic (rich in mineral and organic nutrients that promote a proliferation of plant life) with frequent blooms of blue-green algae, which reduces the dissolved oxygen content.

Efforts to control pollution at Tai Hu include the closure of some of the worst polluting factories, a reduction in the use of detergents with phosphorous, and the improvement of municipal sewage treatment. See also: 

Chao Lake (Chao Hu) -- Chao Lake is near the center of Anhui Province, 15 km east of the capital, Hefei City. Chao Hu is the fifth largest freshwater lake in China, with a surface area of about 750 square km, and it is famous for its beautiful landscape and historic sites. The area around Chao Hu is an agricultural region, with about 5 million people living in surrounding cities and towns. The lake is the major source of water for drinking and irrigation. Fishery is also an important industry.

The most pressing problem in the Chao Lake basin is eutrophication. Chao Lake has high nutrient concentrations from chemical fertilizer runoff, and therefore frequent algae blooms, which reduce the available oxygen, killing fish and other organisms. Also, the nearby cities have grown greatly in recent years, and their industrial wastewater and household sewage go into the lake. Efforts to clean up Chao Hu include the closure of some of the worst polluting factories, the improvement of municipal sewage treatment,  a reduction in the use of phosphorous-containing detergents, some changes to farming practices, and adding fish which eat the algae. See also:

Dian Chi  (Dianchi Lake) -- Dian Chi, China's sixth largest freshwater lake, lies just south of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. The lake is about 340 square km. The area is a highland plateau, and very beautiful, but Dian Chi has become highly polluted and eutrophic, with serious algae problems.

Dian Chi is polluted by industrial wastes, domestic sewage and agricultural runoff. In recent years, sewage treatment plants for Kunming have been constructed, and now almost 60 percent of the city's sewage is treated (three times the national average.) Also, industrial pollution has been reduced. However, clean-up measures to date have failed to stem the pollution because they have focused almost exclusively on point sources around the lake. They have not addressed agricultural runoff nor pollution of the lake’s tributaries. See also:

More Information related the Three Lakes:

See also:

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