, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 1125–1132 | Cite as

Water quality problems and potential for wetlands as treatment systems in the Yangtze River Delta, China

  • Xiuzhen Li
  • Ülo Mander
  • Zhigang Ma
  • Yue Jia


This paper summarizes water pollution problems in the Yangtze River Delta, China, caused by rapid economic growth and lack of wastewater treatment. Although precipitation and river runoff are abundant, surface waters in and around the delta are seriously polluted because of the dense population that contributes domestic sewage, and non-point source drainage from intensive agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, and numerous small enterprises. On the other hand, the delta itself is a huge wetland with many artificial and natural wetlands, such as paddy fields, reed marsh, lakes, and rivers. How to make full use of these wetlands to improve the water quality in the Yangtze River Delta is an important challenge for wetland scientists. Potential solutions include establishment of constructed wetlands near outlets of sewage discharge tunnels, and developing floating mats on open water surfaces. Pilot experiments in the Yangtze Delta have shown improvements to water quality. In the meantime, clean industrial production lines, recycling water usage, and large scale application of water purification techniques should be implemented to mitigate the sources of water pollution.

Key Words

ecological engineering eutrophication red tide Shanghai water pollution 


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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal ResearchEast China Normal UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of Geography Institute of Ecology and Earth SciencesUniversity of TartuTartuEstonia

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