Land use and Water Quality in Guangzhou, China: A survey of ecological and Social Vulnerability in Four Urban Units of the Rapidly Developing Megacity

Document Type: Original Research Paper


1 Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

2 Institute of Landscape Architecture, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

3 Chair of Human Geography, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany


This interdisciplinary paper aims at Guangzhou’s development and its effects on surface and
groundwater quality taking the new city axis as an example. Qualitative morphological analyses, field mappings, interviews and water sampling of standard in-situ and various hydrochemical parameters were conducted between 2007 and 2009 in order to examine the following research questions: Which types of land use can be found within the new city axis? Are there infrastructure differences of water supply and wastewater disposal? How does land use affect the quality of surface and groundwater? How do inhabitants perceive and appraise settlement structures, infrastructures and environmental quality and how do they cope with their individual situation? Within four small-scale research areas, so-called urban units, different stages and types of development and factors influencing the water resources as well as spatial variations of water quality could be identified. Deficits in city planning, water supply and sanitation lead, for example, to informal building expansion and groundwater use as well as to high concentrations of coliform bacteria in urban rivers. A wide range of ecological and social vulnerabilities became obvious.