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Beijing to raise water prices again
Updated: 2004-07-31 22:31

Beijing, the national capital of China, will again raise prices for water for industrial, urban life and environmental purposes starting August 1, said a senior official of the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission (BMDRC)Saturday.

In compliance with the plan on adjusted water prices, the overall water charge will go up from 4.01 yuan (0.48 US dollars) per cubic meter to 5.04 yuan per cu m, announced Zhang Wanhen, an official with the BMDRC at a specially convened press conference.

In its last water rate hike, Beijing raise the household water price to 4.07 yuan (around 49 US cents) from the previous 2.9 yuan (35 US cents) per cubic meter in 2003.

According to Zhang, in Beijing's current water price increase, the per cu m water price for urban life, with sewage treatment included, will be adjusted from 2.9 yuan to 3.70 yuan, and water consumption at administrative institutions will be hiked from 4.4 yuan per cu m to 5.4 yuan per cu m.

The water charge for industrial and commercial purposes will go up from 4.40 yuan per cu m to 5.6 yuan per cu m, and that for the hotel and catering trades will also go up from 5.4 yuan per cu m to 6.10 yuan per cu m.

"We are only adjusting prices on water used for industrial, urban residents' life and environmental purposes, which accounts for 55 percent of the city's water supply," acknowledged Zhang. " But the prices for water used for agriculture and for farmers' daily life, which makes up 45 percent of the city's water supply, will remained unchanged for the time being."

Starting August 1, institutional undertakings in the capital, including the military command headquarters, will subject to reduced quotas for water consumption, which will be lowered by 10 to 15 percent, said Bi Xiaogang, deputy director of the Municipal Water Affairs Bureau.

A progressive pricing system will be introduced for water used above the set quotas, noted Bi. The new round of price hikes is meant to promote economizing water use in Beijing, where water resources have been shrinking rapidly over the past years.

The amount of water per capita in the Chinese capital is less than 300 cu m, one eighth of the national average and one thirtieth of the world average.

The annual rainfall over the past five years has been just 71 percent of the 595 mm in a normal year. And groundwater has been dropping by an average annual rate of 1.3 meters in the past five years as a result of over exploration.

It is estimated the price hikes will bring about an extra revenue of 635 million yuan, and the total revenue from water this year will rise to 1.9 billion yuan.

Most of the revenue will be used to explore, protect, conserve water resources, popularize water efficient measures, help pool a special fund for financing a project to divert water from the Yangtze River to Beijing and to cover the cost needed in the operation and construction of sewage facilities such as pipelines, said Zhang.

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