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Beijing faces long term water shortage
( 2003-08-28 17:23) (Agencies)

Rainfall decreased dramatically in Beijing during this year's rainy season, causing a drought more severe than last year, leading to a foregone conclusion that it would be the fifth successive year of drought. A researching group of water source conservation and administration has made an on-the-spot investigation recently in the capitalĄ¯s suburb areas of Tongzhou, Huairou, Shunyi and Miyun.

According to a top official from the Beijing Water Resources Bureau, average rainfall from the beginning of the year to August 15 was 241 mm in the city, 16.7 percent less than the same period last year which stood at 290 mm, and 45.8 percent less than the average of previous years standing at 445 mm. What is special about this year's rainfall is that the precipitation decreased dramatically after the high-water season came, with precipitation from July 1 to August 15 being only 66 mm, 49 percent less than the same period last year which was 130 mm, 74 percent less than the average of previous years which was 251 mm.

Weather forecasts for the meteorological department say there will be no heavy rainfall in a wide range in Beijing in September. As a result, the drought situation will suffer further aggravation.

In respect to the critical water shortage in Beijing, the municipal water resources department worked out a water supply emergency plan in August last year. Purpose of the plan was to guarantee water supply safety in urban areas; to basically guarantee the environmental water usage in downtown areas while making sure there will be no large-scoped water pollution; to guarantee the Miyun Reservoir, which is said to be "water of life" for Beijingers, not to see dead shortage; to guarantee water supply safety for both humans and livestock in suburban areas through centralized management of the whole city's water resources.

In order to protect water resources from possible outside polluting activities, the Miyun Reservoir has been sealed off. The Project of Underground Water Reservation for Emergency Use, based on northeast BeijingĄ¯s Huairou County where the Huaihe and Yanqi rivers flow, will start formal operation from September, which can provide 40 million tons of water to Beijing.

As a key water control project of Beijing, the Baihebao Reservoir, sitting in Yanqing and boasting a superior geological position, diverts 100 million cubic meters of water annually to the Miyun, Guanting and Shisanling reservoirs, taking responsibility for regulating and diverting water for living and production use in parts of the city.

To ensure the water source is not to be polluted, the project of reforesting the paddy fields has been carried out along the Baihe River in Yanqing this year in an area of 240 hectares. A sewage treatment plant with a daily processing capacity of 30,000 tons has been built, into which a large sum of money has been poured. In addition, some 20 enterprises discharging serious pollution have been closed.

Related insiders have said that as one of the world's biggest metropolises, with a permanent population of over 13 million, Beijing's groundwater resources is almost exhausted after many years of exploitation. They warned that continuing the exploitation of groundwater will bring about a problem of surface subsidence. In the coming tens of years, the reservoirs in the surroundings of Beijing are unlikely to satisfy daily water demand for the city. In the future, we will have no choice but to depend on diverted water from other provinces.

As being serviced by the South-North Water Diversion Project, Beijing bears responsibility for the project in respect of water source protection, administration and utilization. It will also give corresponding support to water source areas to boost common development as well as to help supply sanitary water in the long-term. All in all, water resource undertaking is of strategic significance to the sustainable development of the capital city of Beijing.

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