A Canal Runs through It: Seoul’s Ara Waterway at Two

Memo #293

By Daniel Kane – danielkane [at] gmail.com

The Han is the river of the South Korean capital of Seoul, and for most of that city’s history it served as highway to the Yellow Sea, some twenty kilometers to the west. To be sure, it still does, but since 1953 and the Korean War armistice a significant chunk… Continue reading

Water, Scarcity, and Tibetan Plateau Frontiers

Memo #142

Theme Editors: Tashi Tsering and Jack Hayes

Freshwater (in)security is quickly rising as a critical global challenge. Today, March 22, is World Water Day. The focus is freshwater and measures for conservation and management.

Last fall, Asia Pacific Memo published four Memos as part of its Theme, “Water, Scarcity, and Tibetan Plateau Frontiers.”

Freshwater security is a global… Continue reading

The Disappearing Rivers of India

Memo #120 – The vital rivers of the state of Uttarakhand in northwestern India may soon disappear. A multitude of feeder streams and tributaries that run through the state carve tight passages through steep mountains before joining the sacred river Ganga (Ganges). Ancient and contemporary Hindu traditions are steeped in worship of these tributary rivers, and their sacred confluences are named “prayags”. But Uttarakhand is part of a frantic push across India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and China to harness the rivers of the Himalayas for hydroelectric power.[1] This movement threatens to alter entire river systems in an unprecedented way. Continue reading

Polluted Water Challenges China’s Engineering Efforts

Memo #114 – Water is central to China’s environmental challenges. While not water-short overall, the geographic and temporal variations in China’s precipitation are extreme. Some areas suffer from dangerously lower per capita fresh water availability. Water conservation innovation does happen, but shortages usually elicit familiar engineering responses such as dams and diversions. Most notable is the South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), which aims to take nearly 45 cubic kilometres (45 billion cubic metres) of water annually from the water rich Yangtze River basin to water scarce regions around the Yellow River basin in the north. The diversion would essentially replace the Yellow River’s total annual runoff of 30 billion cubic metres. Continue reading

Water Conservation on the Tibetan Plateau

Memo #112 – China’s most pressing water issues may not be its maritime claims in the South China Sea but matters of freshwater security. For many analysts, China’s domestic and international water security begins and ends with waters of the Tibetan Plateau. And the picture they paint is, to say the least, bleak. Unfortunately this ignores many grassroots and local water conservation efforts in western China. Continue reading

China’s Plans to Divert Water on the Tibetan Plateau

Memo #110 – The prospect of China controlling the taps of Asia’s main rivers is a subject of intense debate. Downstream countries are understandably concerned. But Chinese experts say it is the Chinese who should be most worried about its government’s plans. Continue reading