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China's “Love Canal“ Moment?

MAY . 26 2013

Peking University, May 26, 2013: "China cannot afford the destruction of its groundwater resources," said Professor Zheng Chunmiao and Researcher Liu Jie from the PKU Water Center in their commentary "China's 'Love Canal' Moment?", which has been published on the latest issue of Science.


Love Canal was a neighborhood in New York. In the 1970s, the severe groundwater contamination there brought groundwater protection to the public’s consciousness and the forefront of national priorities around the US for the first time.


Based upon water quality studies, the article connects this year's domestic Internet firestorm which accused business owners in Shandong Province of contaminating groundwater with the Love Canal incident. This outburst has widely caused public concerns in China including that from the Chinese central government.


"Perhaps the Internet storm of 2013 would be remembered kindly by history if it were to become China's Love Canal moment," the authors commented. 


The computer simulation of groundwater pollution 


Field water sampling


Groundwater plays a significant role in China's water supply, especially in the "water-scarce north and north-east regions". However, "the outlook for groundwater quality is bleak". According to the statistics from China's Ministry of Land and Resource in 2011, 55% of groundwater samples from more than 200 cities and administrative regions belong to category IV or V on the scale where I indicates the best quality and V indicates the poorest.


"It is imperative that the Chinese government move aggressively and assertively to combat groundwater pollution," the research group employed the financial and political methods of the US government for groundwater protection as an example.


By examining the present state of China’s water resources, they pointed out that the country needs a strong pollution prevention plan guaranteed by "adequate financial resources, sufficient incentives not to pollute, and strong implementation of the existing regulations".


Full text of the published article: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/340/6134/810.1.full.


Background Info:


Founded in 2006, Peking University Water Center conducts interdisciplinary studies at the forefront of hydrologic science and engineering, and aims at constructing a hydrologic research base with international advanced level. 



Written by: Li Wenrui
Edited by: Xu Xinyi
Source: College of Engineering