Beijing starts "war" against serious water supply crisis : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Beijing starts "war" against serious water supply crisis Source: BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political Publication date: 2000-05-29

Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News Agency) Beijing, 29th May: Beijing has begun a war against a water supply crisis, described as the fourth most serious one since it became the capital of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Last year the city received only 349 mm of precipitation, accounting for only 60 per cent of the normal amount. As a result, the 16 large and medium-sized reservoirs around Beijing were short of 800m cu.m. of water, enough for all Beijing residents to use for over a year. Furthermore, underground water in the Beijing area has dropped 2.3 metres in the past months due to an ongoing drought.

"The city is now experiencing its fourth water shortage in the past half a century. We must do something to ensure water supply to its 13 million residents," experts attending a recent meeting said in a report.

The city's decision makers are also concerned about the issue. Earlier this month, major officials with the Beijing municipal government gathered to discuss 26 measures suggested to deal with the water shortage problem. "We will open more water sources, save more water, protect the water quality and use water more wisely," said Liu Qi, mayor of Beijing. "We will use more recycled water and make full use of other water resources like rainfall and flood," he said.

According to an official source, Beijing will make the Guanting Reservoir in suburban Beijing, another major water source as soon as possible. At present the city's drinking water mainly comes from underground water and the Miyun Reservoir. Major measures to resolve water shortages in the capital include building five new sewage plants, adopting water-saving taps and banning illegal car wash services.

"We hope we can save 150m cu.m. of water within two or three years," said Liu Qi.

Located in the relatively dry north China, Beijing lacks water resources. An average Beijinger only has 300 cu.m. of water to use each year. The waste of water resources also leads to Beijing's water shortage. A latest survey showed that millions of tons of water is being wasted in the city every year due to bad-quality faucets and lavatories.

In addition to the growing population and dry climate factors, water pollution also contributes to Beijing's water woes, experts say. Official figures indicate that Beijing's water use has increased 40 times since the 1950s. It is predicted that the city will need 5bn tons of water by 2005, 5.4bn tons by 2010, 2bn tons more than the city's present water supply. Since 1949 Beijing has experienced three water emergencies. One was during the mid-1960s, another in the mid- 1970s and the third at the beginning of the 1980s.

Beijing is not the only city which has scarce water. According to a latest official figure, some 400 of China's 668 cities are facing water shortages, and of the 400, more than 100 are seriously threatened by water shortages. In addition, nearly half of China's rivers and over 90 per cent of its urban water resources have been polluted.

-- Martin Thompson (, May 29, 2000

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