Megacities pp 33-58 | Cite as

Water Quality and Socio-Ecological Vulnerability Regarding Urban Development in Selected Case Studies of Megacity Guangzhou, China

  • Rafig Azzam
  • Ramona StrohschönEmail author
  • Klaus Baier
  • Lin Lu
  • Katharina Wiethoff
  • Anna Lena Bercht
  • Rainer Wehrhahn
Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


The megacity Guangzhou in the South-Chinese Pearl River Delta is one of the most economically dynamic and rapidly urbanizing areas in the world and meanwhile home to some 15 million people. The urban growth, which also includes various spatial structural changes in the city center as well as in the peri-urban area, has created severe deterioration of water quality within the last 30 years.

This chapter identifies on the basis of various morphological city patterns (urban units) along the new city axis which traverses the modern center of Guangzhou from north to south, different stages of mega-urban development, as well as factors influencing the local water resources and examines spatial variations of water quality. Surface water and groundwater within the investigation areas of Liede, Xincun, Yuangangcun, and Shibi was sampled in the rainy as well as in the dry seasons between 2007 and 2009, leading to the result that the main factors affecting water contamination in the urban and peri-urban creeks are still domestic sewage, resulting in very high concentrations of total coliform bacteria up to 1.3 × 107 MPN/100 ml regarding surface water and just as high concentrations up to 9.2 × 105 MPN/100 ml in groundwater. As the measuring results of ammonium, nitrate, and heavy metals mostly comply with the Chinese and international WHO standard, this chapter only focuses on total coliform bacteria.

By means of a transdisciplinary research design developed by engineering geologists and hydrogeologists, landscape architects, and urban geographers, structural deficits in water infrastructure and city planning, as well as ecological and social vulnerability become obvious.


Water quality Water infrastructure Land use (change) Structural city pattern Social vulnerability Urban units Guangzhou 



The authors would like to thank the German Research Foundation, as this research material is based upon work within the Grant Priority Program 1233: Megacities – Megachallenge: Informal Dynamics of Global Change.

Note Meanwhile, a revised form of the manuskript was submitted to the international Journal of Environmental Research. It has been accepted for publication and will presumably appear in March 2013 (cf. Strohschön et al. 2013).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafig Azzam
    • 1
  • Ramona Strohschön
    • 1
    Email author
  • Klaus Baier
    • 1
  • Lin Lu
    • 1
  • Katharina Wiethoff
    • 2
  • Anna Lena Bercht
    • 3
  • Rainer Wehrhahn
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Engineering Geology and HydrogeologyRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Landscape ArchitectureRWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of KielKielGermany

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