The wetlands along northern China's biggest river system are drying up because of the thirst of an expanding population and a fast-growing economy, state media reported. Twelve main sections of wetlands along the reaches of the Haihe River have shrunk 80% in five decades from 3,800 square kilometers to just 538 sq km. The Haihe is formed by five large rivers that spread out like a fan over 320,000 sq km in northern China, converging near Tianjin, southeast of Beijing. Local water conservancy authorities blame the loss on excessive exploitation of the Haihe and damming of the river's tributaries. Some 300 million Chinese have no access to clean water, 70% of China's water is contaminated, and in the past 50 years it has lost more than 1,000 lakes.