Guangzhou (AsiaNews/Agencies) Water from the Pearl River is destroying the rural economy of its delta. Water pollution is rising so much that experts have begun sounding alarm bells and farmers relying on the river are already noticing their crops dying off.
Pearl River Delta cities are rich enough to pay for waste-water treatment plants but do not allow farmers from using their treated water.
Not only is the situation making people forced to drink the polluted water sick, but it is pitting city people against farmers and creating social tensions.
What is more, experts are warning that attempts to treat water may prove useless unless a common approach is not adopted.
According to Liu Chen, director of the Protection Bureau of the Pearl River Water Resources Commission, efforts by cities like Guangzhou "will go to waste if nothing is done downstream".
"If we also continue to pollute the water at its source, all the efforts of cities downstream will be wasted," he said.
As for exclusive use of the water, "many suggestions have been made to provide clean water to everyone, but they have not been implemented," Mr Liu said.
Rich cities close to the coast do not offer assistance to poorer inland provinces because they do not believe the problem is serious.
According to the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Centre, the Pearl River dumps 8,655 tonnes of heavy metals, 65,637 tonnes of nitrates and ammonia, and 59,853 tonnes of petrol into the sea each year.
Still, according to the Monitoring Centre, the Pearl River is less polluted than the Yangtze.