Something is seriously wrong with China's agricultural system. Over the past month, around 16,000 rotting pig carcasses (as well as a thousand ducks...) have been fished out of the Jiapingtang, a tributary of the Huangpu river which supplies drinking water to Shanghai, a city of over 23 million people.
Standing on the quay, Mrs Wu jokes that there are more pigs than fish in Jiapingtang river. But she isn't smiling. The 48-year-old fisherwoman, who lives in Xinfeng, a sleepy country village, recalls splashing about in the river as a child on sticky summer days. Today it is inky black, covered in a slick of lime green algae, and it smells like a blocked drain. "Look at the water, who would dare to jump in?" says Wu. At her feet a dead piglet bobs on the river's surface, bouncing against the shore. (source)
Testing shows that the carcasses carry porcine circovirus, which thankfully isn't known to be contagious to humans. We can guess that some pig farmer decided that the easiest way to get rid of his sick animals was to dump them in a river... And that it was possible to get away with it. Can you imagine if this happened up-river from where you get your drinking water?
Shanghai's municipal water department says the water meets the national standard, but that doesn't stop people from worrying. And with reason. Pollution is now so bad in the country that it is the #1 cause of social unrest.
Time to make some big changes. If it's true that Shanghai's water really is ok, this should still be a wake up call, because next time they might not be so lucky.