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Beijing embraces water
( 2003-11-19 10:37) (eastday.com)

A meandering green river quietly extends far into a building complex, with reeds and willows alongside, swaying in Beijing's autumn breeze.

Wang Juli, a network company employee, bought a two-bed-room apartment in the building complex with a river winding through.

"I think Beijing is really lacking in water and waterscapes, which makes lots of citizens dream of being close to water. For me, I spent more than 900,000 yuan (US$108,000) for my 100-square-meter apartment, one-eighth more than the average price of the apartments with the same area in another place, only for the river landscape," Wang said.

Beijing now has dozens of commercial building complexes with a variety of water landscapes and all sold well, despite their comparatively high prices.

However, land developers still have problems developing resident communities with water landscapes, because natural riverside or lakeside land must be preserved, and digging canals and lakes is expensive, considering the high price of water.

Today, Beijing's water price is 4.07 yuan per ton, while residents in Shanghai only spend 2 yuan for every ton of water.

"The difference in water prices reflects the different water resources status of different areas. Beijing's high water price demonstrates a fact that the city is very much in need of water," said Wu Jisong, director of the Water Resources Bureau under the Ministry of Water Resources.

Currently, Beijing's annual per capita water supply volume is less than 300 cubic meters, one-eighth of the country's average level and one-32nd of the world's average level, making the city one of the world's most water-scarce cities.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Water Resources show that in 2008 when Beijing holds the Olympic Games, the city will consume more than 4 billion cubic meters of water for its industry, agriculture, daily life and ecological use.

Ministry officials said if the city's population stays at around 18 million in 2008, water supply could still meet demand, through recycling waste water and diverting water from other provinces.

Two reservoirs, Miyun and Guanting, are main water sources for Beijing's daily water consumption, which is 890 million cubic meters annually. However, this summer, the two reservoirs only have 500 million cubic meters available, due to the lack of rain.

On September 26, about 50 million cubic meters of water flowed from Cetian Reservoir in the northern province of Shanxi to Guanting Reservoir in Beijing, for temporary relief of the city's water shortage.

Later this year, the middle route of the south-to-north water transfer project will be started.

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