"When members of China's Greenpeace office inspected the site of a massive chemical spill in Shanxi province last month, they found an even more worrying environmental problem: disappearing water resources." "BEIJING — When 39 tons of the toxic chemical aniline spilled from a factory in Changzhi in China’s Shanxi province at the end of December, polluting drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people downstream along the Zhuozhang River and dangerously fouling the environment, it seemed a grave enough disaster. And it was. So it’s hard to believe, perhaps, but in mid-January, just days after local officials belatedly revealed the spill to the public, a 'rapid response team' sent by Greenpeace China to investigate found something even worse than the spill, the blogger Zhou Wei wrote in chinadialogue, an online magazine about China’s environment. Greenpeace found that the fast pace of water consumption by coal and chemical industries in the area is drying up all water resources further downstream. In fact, by 2015, water consumption by coal and chemical industry in China’s dry, western areas is set to use up a whopping quarter of the water flowing annually in the nearby Yellow River, which forms much of the border of Shanxi Province and is popularly known as China’s 'Mother River,' wrote chinadialogue. As chinadialogue wrote, citing Greenpeace, 'Even more worrying than the chemical leak is the high water consumption of the coal and chemical industries in the area.'" "'Water is a key challenge for the country as the racing economy guzzles it faster and faster. In the last 40 years, 13 percent of China’s lakes have disappeared, half its coastal wetlands have been lost to reclamation and 50 percent of cities left without drinking water that meets acceptable hygienic standards, the World Wildlife Fund said, according to another article in chinadialogue. The United Nations has singled China out as one of 13 countries with extreme water shortages.'"
Via Dennis Richards