Beijing Water

Beijing Water Authority postpones South-to-North Water Diversion Project, Prepares to raise Beijing’s water prices (Update 3)

People’s Daily (and other sources)

May 11, 2009

In our report, Beijing’s Water Crisis: 1949 – 2008 Olympics, Probe International argued that the city’s worsening water shortage would not be solved by building more dams and diversion canals. But rather, the city should implement laws and regulations to limit polluting and water-profligate projects and ensure that consumers and businesses pay the full cost for water.

The People’s Daily Online reports that the Beijing Water Authority has announced it is postponing for five years its plan to channel water into Beijing via the South-North Water Diversion Project. Instead, the city is planning to raise prices, reclaim more water, and restrict water consumption. This, it hopes will decrease by five percent the amount of water needed to produce every 10,000 yuan of GDP.

The full story follows.

Five years delay to channel Southern water to Beijing

People’s Daily Online

The plan of channeling water into Beijing via the South-to-North Water Diversion Project has been postponed for five years. The carrying capacity of the capital’s water resources is therefore facing unprecedented pressure as the city’s reservoirs have an insufficient storage of water and the groundwater level is declining, said Cheng Jing, Director of the Beijing Water Authority, on May 10.

Cheng said it was planned that the South-to-North Water Diversion Project would divert one billion cubic meters of Yangtze River water into Beijing next year, which would relieve Beijing’s water shortage to a certain extent. However, according to the latest construction plan, the South-to-North Water Diversion Project to channel water into Beijing will be postponed until 2014, which will further aggravate Beijing’s water shortage problem in the next six years.

Beijing has experienced drought for nine consecutive years, leaving water resources in short supply. Water resources imposing restraints on economic development remain Beijing’s most prominent issue. Cheng said establishing a rigorous water resource management system is the answer to the capital’s water shortage problem. This year, the water affairs department will strictly implement a total volume control and quota management so that the water consumption needed to produce every 10,000 yuan of GDP will decrease by five percent.

Cheng said this year the government will urge 40 enterprises with high water and energy consumption and causing heavy pollution to move out of Beijing so as to develop water-conserving high-end industries.

In addition, Beijing will promote the use of non-conventional water sources. This will be a significant strategy to ease the shortage of water resources. Cheng said that Beijing will expand the scope and utilization of reclaimed water in areas including miscellaneous water consumption by the municipal government, construction site dust settling, environmental and industrial fields. The water used for areas such as golf courses, suburb parks, large-scale green land and agricultural irrigation will be replaced by reclaimed water. Furthermore, the area of green land that is irrigated by reclaimed water will be increased by 2 million square meters, and the amount of annually utilized reclaimed water is targeted to reach 650 million cubic meters.

Reporters learned that Beijing is a city that is severely lacking water, with the average utilizable water resources per capita presently being less than 300 cubic meters. This figure is below one third of the internationally accepted lower limit of water shortage, and only one eighth of China’s average level.

By People’s Daily Online

Another story from CRIEnglish.com is reporting that heavy water users such as car-washes, saunas and golf courses will be charged at the new, higher rate. Industrial users, meanwhile, will be subject to limits on the amount of water they use.

Beijing Today adds in its story that another reason delaying the proposed water project are the costs associated with relocating thousands of residents along the 1,400 kilometre channel linking the Hubei province with Beijing, Tianjin and neighboring provinces.

And an article from China Drive, translated by CRIEnglish.com says the “water shortage in Beijing is set to reach a crisis point by 2010, when the population is expected to top 17 million, that’s 3 million more than current resources can support.”

This article from The Economic Observer Online says, “that though the project kicked start in 2002, its feasibility study was only concluded late last year.”

Reuters is also covering the story.

Greenlaw has some interesting facts on Beijing’s water consumption.

This story from the Environmental Leader looks at a new project between GE and a Shanghai industrial company to design a local water reclamation plant.

Further Reading:

Beijing’s Water Crisis: 1949-2008 Olympics with 2010 Update

Beijing’s water crisis

PI ANALYSIS: Beijing’s on-again off-again water crisis


Experts warn China’s water supply may well run dry

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