By Todd Johnson, Feng Liu, Richard S. Newfarmer, World Bank
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Extra info for Clear water, blue skies: China's environment in the new century
The lack of coordinated water basin management also has contributed to surface water pollution in many localities. For example, during dry periods local water use agencies often close gates along their section of a river to retain water for local users, but in so doing retain pollutants from industrial, municipal, and irrigation discharges. When the first rains come, gate operators flush their sections of the river by forcing a highly polluted waste stream into the main river channel. A surge of this sort on the Huai River in 1994 killed massive numbers of fish, caused widespread illness, and forced municipal and industrial water intakes along the river to shut down.
A comparison of fifty Chinese cities shows that as wages rise, the pollution density of suspended particulates falls (box figure). Poor cities also have higher emissions of sulfur dioxide than rich cities, although emissions density rises from low-to middle-income cities and then falls to the lowest levels in high-income areas. Why this counterintuitive association between poverty and pollution? Although richer areas do have higher levels of industrial production, production in those areas is also much cleaner, for at least three reasons.
At the regional level, effective management of water basins and airsheds requires setting up regional authorities to overcome the paralysis afflicting current policymaking. Similarly, regulation of sulfur emissions, like that in the Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law of 1995, must target areas suffering from acid rain to have the maximum effect and to minimize control costs. At the urban level, environmental master plans could help remove dirty industries from downtown areas and allow for effective urban transportation, two measures that will reduce health damages and pollution loads in the years to come.
Clear water, blue skies: China's environment in the new century by Todd Johnson, Feng Liu, Richard S. Newfarmer, World Bank