Experts say beef up anti-flood measures

09:21, July 20, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

As this year's first major typhoon looms off southern China, urban development experts warn that many newly urbanized areas' anti-flooding infrastructure is in such a woeful state that a major meteorological disaster will pose an unprecedented and at times deadly threat to many cities.

Nearly all cities in the entire Yangtze River valley are being threatened by floods, when this year's first major typhoon is expected to bring more rain to southern China next week after many cities have already been hit by continual downpours since early May.

Devastating floods are a consequence of looming global climate change, said Lin Liangxun, a senior researcher with Guangdong province meteorological center.

Voices in the local media in some southern cities are calling on the government to enact a national urban flood-prevention law.

According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Land and Resources, by the end of June, China's incidence of geological disasters in the first six months of 2010 had risen by a staggering extent compared to the same period last year.

There were 19,522 such disasters in the first six months of this year, ranging from floods to earthquakes, compared to 1,864 in the same period last year. According to Yin Yueping, a specialist at the ministry, the number of disasters in June was 15 times as high as the same period last year.

In the first 10 days of July, floods already impacted nearly 30 million people in 10 provinces in the Yangtze River valley, causing total financial losses of nearly 20 billion yuan, according to China News.

Chen Lei, minister of water resources, recently said that the development of urban flood-control systems has been lagging behind the expansion of urban areas and the nation's urban population growth, jacking up China's losses in urban floods.

Up to 50 percent of Chinese cities fail to meet national flood-control standards, Chen noted, with some cities still having to build any flood-prevention infrastructure for newly developed areas.

Official figures show that the number of cities in China increased from 132 in the early 1950s, among which only 10 had a population of more than 1 million, to 655 in 2008, when 122 had a population of more than 1 million.

Liu Shukun, a professor with the China Water Resources and Hydropower Institute, called for the building of flood-proof cities consisting of efforts to:

Include the many small-and medium-sized cities in the national flood-control mechanism. These cities' flood-prevention measures remain inadequate;

Improve existing urban drainage administration by incorporating new concepts and better information solutions, combining it with the regular water supply system.

Introduce a storm contingency program, to match each city's capabilities to protect its residents and public facilities with its medium-term weather forecasting.

One unfortunate human factor that contributes to the problem, engineers said, is local development officials' lack of understanding and interest in developing the urban underground public infrastructure to match their obsession with grand construction projects, said Cui Shenghui, a researcher at the Institute of Urban Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Some newly built expensive buildings do not even have any systems to prevent water logging, he added.

Environmentalists tend to have strong criticisms of the prevailing urban development model.

"The urban land surface is mostly covered with concrete, said Li Xiaoquan, a meteorologist, making it difficult, if not impossible, for rainwater to soak into the ground. "This, plus fewer trees and clogged sewers, makes our cities more vulnerable to water-related disasters."

In a recent editorial, the Beijing News openly attacked officials' "irrational urban planning" and blamed it for the city's rare high temperature this summer.

Many cities haven't allocated adequate funds for their flood control and drainage systems, according to Cheng Xiaotao, a flood specialist with the Ministry of Water Resources.

In small cities, illegal construction projects, including golf courses, have sometimes obstructed key drainage systems. In very large cities, including Guangzhou, water infrastructure is also limited, Ministry of Water Resources experts told China Daily. More drainage projects are needed to help the Pearl River Delta free itself from water logging.

Source:China Daily


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • The graphics shows the launch procedures of the carrier rocket of Tiangong-1 space lab module, Long March-2FT1 on Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Lu Zhe)
  • Image taken from Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows a Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasting off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua)
  • On Sept. 28, tourists travel around the Mingshashan Scenic Area in Dunhuang, Gansu province by camel. With the National Day vacation right around the corner, more and more tourists from home and abroad are going to Dunhuang. Riding on a camel, they travel in the desert to enjoy the cities rare form of natural scenery. (Xinhua/Zhang Weixian)
  • Chinese forest armed forces work together with forest firefighters on Sept. 28. (Xinhua/Chai Liren)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows strong wind blows trees in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province. Typhoon Nesat heads towards south China and is moving at an average wind speed of 20 km per hour toward the west coast of China's Guangdong Province. (Xinhua/Hou Jiansen)
  • A fallen tree is seen on a road in Qionghai, south China's Hainan Province, Sept. 29, 2011. Typhoon Nesat was predicted to land in Hainan later Thursday, bringing heavy rainfalls to the island. (Xinhua/Meng Zhongde)
Hot Forum Discussion