(September 21, 2010) Beijing is likely to suffer from a 12th consecutive year of drought, according to local authorities and experts who warned of water shortages and called for improved water conservation.
The latest information, which was released by the Beijing Water Authority (BWA), indicates that from June 1 to Sept 15, there was only 273 mm of rain on the capital, 40 percent less than the average from previous years.
The amount of rain that fell during the rainy season this year was the lowest for 50 years, according to the city’s meteorological department.
“The fast increasing population and the rapid expansion of the city pose great challenges to Beijing, a city known for its water shortages,” said Peng Gang, a professor from Renmin University of China, in an interview with Qianlong.com.
Due to reductions in rainfall, Miyun Reservoir, the city’s most important resource for drinking water, has seen levels fall this year.
The statistics released last week indicate that the reservoir holds 966 million cubic meters, which is less than 25 percent of its capacity, according to Beijing Evening News.
Currently, two-thirds of the city’s water consumption comes from underground storage facilities, which forces the city to dig deep and has caused the over-exploitation of underground water.
Statistics indicate that, in the past 22 years, the water used for farming and industry has been decreasing, while water for personal use and for the service industry has been rapidly increasing.
Some heavy industries have been gradually moved out of Beijing during recent years as the capital has adopted a new development policy. And farmers have turned to drought-resistant crops to save water. But service industries, such as car washes and public bathhouses, are increasingly thirsty.
In order to quench the city’s thirst, Beijing will strengthen the management of those industries and encourage the use of more reclaimed water, said Yang Jinhuai of the water authority.
The promotion of water conservation is more important to the long-term goals than the punishment of waste, said Li Shirong, director of the Beijing urban water-saving law enforcement team.
“The urgency is to change people’s mindset. It is absolutely wrong to waste water or use as much as you want just because you pay the fee.
The money will be useless when we talk about the resource that is not renewable,” he said.
Qin Zhongwei, China Daily, September 21, 2010
Categories: Beijing Water