Shanghai Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal

By Ward, Robert M.; Liang, Wen | The Geographical Review, April 1995 | Go to article overview

Shanghai Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal

Ward, Robert M., Liang, Wen, The Geographical Review

Providing an adequate amount of safe drinking water is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of a government, yet it cannot be assumed that all countries or local administrations have achieved this goal. The task is influenced by the quantity and quality of water at its source and by the technology available to process it. In communities relying on surface-water intake, the goal is closely related to the condition of discharged wastewater that becomes part of the freshwater resource base. This water quality frequently depends on the amount of available public finance and on the desire of government to install or purchase water-treatment facilities that will upgrade the water to the desired standard. In a broad sense, the situation may be viewed as a policy decision in which there is a trade-off among economic development, environmental concerns, and budgetary decisions.

The People's Republic of China must contend with water shortages as it tries to attain an adequate supply of safe drinking water for its burgeoning populace (Hou 1991). As a result of the eighth five-year plan (1991-1995), it is expected that good water quality will become a national goal in the near future; yet there is little indication that the central government will make environmental spending a priority. The challenge to achieve good water has been met with limited success. Urban areas have become focal points of great concern because of their large, rapidly growing populations and because of the interest of the government in attracting foreign investment. Shanghai, the largest city in China, is the case study for examining a municipal effort to provide safe drinking water; the problems are associated with wastewater discharge, water intake, and treatment facilities, as well as governmental efforts to improve the overall quality of water available to the residents of Shanghai. The extent of the concern is exemplified by parents who teach their children from infancy not to drink water directly from faucets. All water for human consumption is boiled. The perception of dangerous water is well founded, because many illnesses and diseases can be linked directly to poor water quality.

Shanghai is a global-scale metropolis with a population of 12.5 million people and a position of prominence in commercial activity and industrial output in China. The old city forms the core of an area known administratively as Shanghai Proper, which is situated primarily on the western bank of the Huangpu River [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED]. The Huangpu drains an area of approximately 24,000 square kilometers and has a volume that exceeds 10 billion cubic meters annually (Duan ca. 1989, 1-7). This channeled tributary discharges into the Yangtze River near its mouth as it flows into the East China Sea. Shanghai Proper is a densely constructed area of residential and other urban uses that must utilize an aging infrastructure; yet it is considered the most attractive part of the city. Surrounding the inner city are ten counties that provide high-value agricultural commodities. Portions of these counties are rapidly developing urban concentrations that will place increasing demands on water resources.


Shanghai has always relied for its water supply on the Huangpu and its main tributary, Suzhou Creek, as well as on some canals. Although the Huangpu River will continue to provide virtually all of the water used in Shanghai, the quality of water from this source is usually below desired standards. Some water used to be pumped from wells as a supplement to the river water, but the practice was discontinued in the mid-1960s because it contributed directly to subsidence of land and related landuse problems (Shanghai Hydrogeologic Team 1976; Smil 1993). The annual natural recharge of groundwater was inadequate to maintain the historical hydrologic balance. Hydrologists measured the extent of this sinking land to be as much as 2.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

Shanghai Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.