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Fun on the piste means low water supplies
By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-19 06:02

The rising number of ski resorts in Beijing is being held partly responsible for the city's shortage of water and some of its land destruction.

Many urban young people take to ski in recent years while the snow fun novel for Chinese wastes a lot of water each year. [baidu]

"All ski resorts in Beijing consume ground water - one important source of the city's tap water - for making artificial snow," said Wang Fude, deputy director with the Academy of Tourism Development at Beijing International Studies University.

All 13 ski resorts in the capital have dug their own wells more than 100 metres deep and pump 3.8 million cubic metres of water out each year, according to research by Wang.

"That means they consume the same annual water consumption of 42,000 local residents."

The thirsty city, where per capita water resources are less than 300 cubic metres - 4 per cent of the world average and 15 per cent of the national average - has suffered from drought for six consecutive years.

"Water is so precious in Beijing," Wang said. "Beijingers can afford a life without skiing but they cannot live without water."

But despite the rallying cry for saving water, the first indoor ski resort in the city will open to the public next week.

Qiaobo Ski Resort, named after Ye Qiaobo, who won China's first silver medal in the Winter Olympics at the Albertville Games 10 years ago, has spent more than 600 million yuan (US$72 million).

The resort is equipped with two ski runs and covered with half a metre of snow.

But yesterday the resort refuted the claim they were wasting water, citing the difference between outdoor and indoor ski resorts.

"Unlike outdoor skiing grounds, where snow melts under the sun, snow on indoor ski runs is kept for longer in lower temperatures," said a spokesman from the marketing department.

"Our temperatures will be fixed at minus 3 C for 24 hours. And we don't need to make fresh snow all the time."

Building a ski resort can damage the environment as they are often built in mountain areas where vegetation is sparse.

"Once the vegetation is destroyed, it is hard to recover," Wang said, calling for a halt to construction and a shutdown of some of the existing pistes.

But building ski resorts in remote mountain areas of barren land could actually improve land efficiency and its value, said Yi Xianrong, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wen Jun, spokeswoman for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said the ski resort issue has not been on the agenda yet and will be discussed at a later date.

(China Daily 07/19/2005 page3)

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