China's economic success fuels scramble for water
Water shortages, brought on by a bigger industry and larger cities, could cause the Chinese economy to founder. The problem is pitting farmers against factories, ecology against industry, and upstream against downstream.
A Chinese villager carries empty buckets with her child as they walk across a dried-up pond during a severe drought in Zhaojiatang village, in southwest China's Yunnan province.
A worker fills buckets for villagers with water supplied by the local government during a severe drought in Jianshui county.
A farmer works on his dried field next to buckets of water, which will be used for irrigation during the drought. Unlike the country's oil needs, which can be supplemented with imports, water needs pose a much more intractable threat to China's rise.
A Chinese farmer checks dried fruits in his field during a severe drought in Qinglong. China's bigger economy means more factories and power plants, all prodigious users of water. People are also eating better and growing more food, which requires more water.
A worker fills a well with water supplied by the local government. Beijing, whose 17 million-strong population is growing by about 300,000 people a year, has been sucking up all the water it can. To the city's northwest, water from the polluted Guanting reservoir is no longer fit for drinking.
Villagers get water from a well during a drought in southwest China. About 42 percent of China's population lives in the arid north, which has about 8 percent of the country's water resources.
A farmer drives his cattle across a dried-up pond in Zhaojiatang, China. Water use per person in China is one-ninth the U.S. level.
A dead snail lies on a dried-up pond in Qinglong. About 60 percent of the water in China's Yellow River goes to agricultural irrigation. Better irrigation techniques could save a third of the water used now, experts say.
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