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The Liao River Is an Environmental Nightmare

The Liao River is the principal river in southern Northeast China, and one of the seven main river systems in mainland China. Coursing 1,345 kilometers (836 mi) long, it passes through Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jilin, and Liaoning Provinces.

According to Economic Information Daily, a subsidiary of the official Xinhua News Agency, in recent years, the amount of river water has decreased year by year. In many places, there is no water at all. A major section of the Liao River flows through Chifeng City and Tongliao City in Inner Mongolia, with a total length of 829 kilometers. In Chifeng City, since 2007, most parts of the river have run out of water for most of the year. In Tongliao City, the Liaohe River has experienced 20-years of being cut off.

In addition to the climate drought, the main reason is that there are too many water conservation projects along the river. In Chifeng alone, there are 82 large, medium, and small reservoirs in the upstream portion of the Liao River.

Over the years, with the interruption of water in the middle and upstream areas of the River and with the people living nearby increasing their demand for water consumption, the demand for groundwater has increased. This has resulted in over-exploitation and a decline in the water level. In Chifeng City and Tongliao City, groundwater depletion caused areas of land subsidence as large as 3000 square kilometers, and the water level dropped by about 10 meters.

The water interruptions have caused a large reduction in the area of lakes, wetlands and grasslands. Trees along the banks of the river have declined and died, posing a threat to the ecological environment and ecological security of this area. The grassland area in Tongliao City has been decreasing year by year since 2014. In 2004, the area of lake wetlands in Chifeng City was 60,738.05 hectares. By 2010, it shrank to half that size. Of the 82 reservoirs in Chifeng City, 40 percent have dried up.

Source: Economic Information Daily, August 6, 2018