Shoddy Urban Drainage System Causes China’s Serious Flooding

By Hong Ning
Hong Ning
Hong Ning
June 29, 2011 Updated: October 1, 2015
June 18, Jianghan district, Wuhan. (From godeyes.cn)
June 18, Jianghan district, Wuhan. (From godeyes.cn)

Heavy rains did not need to lead to the severe, destructive flooding that has plagued several parts of China in June, according to Chinese netizens and a drainage expert. An antiquated and poorly maintained drainage system turned heavy rains into backed-up waters, as officials siphoned off the money that could have been used to drain the storm water.

According to Beijing News, articles describing Wuhan’s flooding have attracted the close attention of many netizens.

One photo, titled "inundation of Gold Hill" has been circulating rapidly on the Internet. It clearly shows the flooded 9 ft.-curved boardwalk built above Hangzhou Lake, Zhejiang Province.

June 20, the flooded street of Lanxi city, Zhejiang. (From godeyes.cn)
June 20, the flooded street of Lanxi city, Zhejiang. (From godeyes.cn)
“Nanchang’s five major drainage systems that underwent a 2 billion yuan (approx. US$308 million) upgrade, are so vulnerable from intensive rainfall!,” said a Jiangxi netizen.

A shop owner in Nanchang’s East Lake district told The Epoch Times: "So much money is reportedly allocated, but almost all the money has been embezzled!"

Hog-evacuating boat in Lanxi city, Zhejiang. (From godeyes.cn)
Hog-evacuating boat in Lanxi city, Zhejiang. (From godeyes.cn)
Mr. Wen, who has worked in municipal drainage, construction, and management for years, explained that municipal underground pipelines connecting to rivers or lakes have caused severe overflowing. He says the reasons for China’s drainage network failure are:

1. Inadequate design and construction of underground drainage networks; years of disrepair; few and narrow pipeline networks.

2. Lack of routine maintenance and construction of pipelines or culverts, which accumulate silt, soil, stones, and other sediment.

3. Discharge from water reservoirs upstream causes rivers to rise above the drainage outlets, resulting in overflow.

June 19, Yingtan city, Jiangxi. (From godeyes.cn)
June 19, Yingtan city, Jiangxi. (From godeyes.cn)
According to Mr. Wen, flooding in China’s vast, rural farm fields is also due to drainage system failure. The current field drainage system is insufficient to deal with heavy downpours.

He said that municipal drainage construction funds are appropriated by the state, but most of it has been embezzled by corrupt officials at different levels. So the money actually used for drainage construction and maintenance is very little.

"By constantly filling lakes, filling rivers, and filling wetlands, where will the water go when it rains heavily? It’s natural for low areas to collect water in the rainy season and form a lake. But now people want to go against nature. After mastering a certain level of scientific skill, people should study the laws of nature, exercise self-restraint, and follow the course of nature, rather than go on plugging and blocking," one netizen posted.

Hong Ning
Hong Ning