China's Coal Thirst Strains Its Water Supplies

A government drive to boost coal output is taxing water supplies
The once-mighty Xiang River, in Changsha, Hunan province Photograph by ImagineChina

The Wulanmulun River once ran through Daliuta, a town in China’s northern Shaanxi province. All that remains of the waterway today is a pond, which locals say is contaminated by waste from the world’s biggest underground coal mine. Environmentalists also contend that mining is sapping the area’s groundwater supplies. “I worry about the water,” says Zhe Mancang, the 58-year-old owner of a liquor store in town. “But my family’s here, and my customers are from the mines.”

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