How serious is the Yangtze River pollution?

Is the Yangtze River polluted? The answer is yes. Industrial wastewater discharge, agricultural chemical fertilizer, sediment accumulation, ship garbage and acid rain were the main Yangtze River pollution causes. Only in 2016, there were 35.32 billion ton waste water flowed into the Yangtze River. Fortunately, Yangtze River water pollution has drawn attention of central government and many measures and regulations have been launched to control and improve the situation. With efforts nationwide, the water quality has been improved. Even so, the tough fight against pollution is still ongoing.

Top Yangtze River Pollution Causes

Industrial Wastewater

There are serried factories along the Yangtze River, especially in the middle and lower reaches. A lot of factories used to discharge sewage directly into Yangtze River, which became the leading Yangtze River pollution cause. Although the amount of wastewater reduced substantially after being controlled, the water quality of Yangtze River cannot be recovered as what it was before in a short time.

In the mainstream, the sections where big city lie were polluted in different degrees, such as in Panzhihua, Yibin, Chongqing, Yichang, Yueyang, Wuhan, Jiujiang, Tongling, Nanjing, Shanghai and so on. In tributaries, the situation was more serious. If a section of a tributary was polluted, the whole tributary was polluted.

Agricultural Chemical Fertilizer

Agricultural fertilizer flowing into the Yangtze River and its lakes with rain caused eutrophication. It was once very severe. At the Estuary, Yangtze River water pollution was mainly due to excessive agricultural nitrogen and phosphorus, which is just eutrophication. In lakes along the river, eutrophication was more serious. For example, in Taihu Lake, eutrophication used to bring about blue-green algae bloom every year. The annual blue-green algae salvage in Taihu Lake lasted for almost half a year, and the amount of blue-green algae gotten out every day reached 26,000 tons in 2007. Poyang Lake and Dongting Lake were as the same.

Waste from Ships

With developed shipping industry, there are a number of ships coming and going every day on Yangtze River. Some living waste were poured into the river without treatment, and some sailors threw litters into the river without scruple. It became a sever cause of Yangtze River pollution. The rubbish from ships on Yangtze River reached 75,000 tons, and the living sewage got 360 million tons in 2015. It was said that people could walk on the waste discarded with no danger at all in upstream of Gezhouda Dam at that time.

Measures to Control Yangtze River Pollution

Both the central government and local governments have taken many strategies to control Yangtze River pollution. The situation has shown some improvement. Generally speaking, chemical companies were ordered to rectify or were closed. All the factories were asked to remove at least one kilometer away from the water front. The layout of the sewage outfall into the river has been optimized. The supervision and management system of the sewage outfall into the Yangtze River have been strengthened. The effluent can only be discharged after reaching sewage discharge standard. There are also some detailed local laws to reduce pollution.


Difficulties in Controlling Yangtze River Pollution

The area along the banks of Yangtze River’s lower reaches is one of the most prosperous regions in China, where has an enormous increasing population. More people means more living waste and more pollution. And people’s environmental awareness need to be strengthened. Some factories still discharge wastewater into Yangtze River on the sly, which is another important cause. Besides, the lack of expenditure to control pollution is an issue worth attention. At the meantime, the Yangtze River flows through different regions where different managements are applied separately, rather than the comprehensive treatment concerning the whole Yangtze River basin.

Further Reading
10 Key Yangtze River Facts

- Last modified on Jan. 08, 2020 -
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