Cities raise water price
More than half of Chinese cities raised their water prices this year, aiming to fight the country's severe water shortage by raising citizen's water-saving awareness.
The most outstanding example was Beijing. In August, the capital raised its water price from 2.9 yuan per ton to 3.7 yuan per ton.
It was the ninth water price hike for the city in the past 14 years, making Beijing's water most expensive in the country.
Although Beijing had a rainy summer this year, the water level of the city's major reservoir, Miyun Reservoir, did not rise at all.
The city transferred more than 100 million cubic meters of water from the neighboring provinces of Shanxi and Hebei, both of which are also parched.
"Water shortage and water pollution will be major challenges for the country to realize its goal of building up an affluent society in 20 years," said Wang Shucheng, Minister of Water Resources, at an ongoing national water resources management meeting taking place in the capital.
The latest statistics from the Ministry of Water Resources showed that China's per capita water volume was only 2,200 cubic meters, one quarter of the world's average.
Two-thirds of the country's more than 600 cities suffered water shortages, and China has become one of the 13 most water-lacking countries in the world. Water shortages cause up to 300 billion yuan (US$36.2 billion) in economic losses in China every year.
Besides Beijing, many provinces and autonomous regions around the country, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Hubei and Guangxi, are adjusting or have already raised their water prices in the year 2004.
China's average urban per capita water price stands at 2 yuan per ton nowadays.
"Such low water prices cannot reflect the country's severe water shortage and will definitely be raised remarkably in future," said Wang Xiuqing, professor at China Agriculture University.
"Will the last drop of water on Earth be the tear of a human being?" The question was recently written on the advertisement billboards across the country in a bid to remind citizens of the country's severe water shortage.