How China’s capital got in over its head, and what the city is doing to get its water crisis under control.
Originally posted on the CSRwire website.
By Nadya Ivanova, Circle of Blue
Perennial drought, overuse and pollution have left Beijing struggling to meet the growing water demands of its soaring economy, which is expanding by more than 11 percent per year on average. Its drying rivers and lakes, along with falling water tables, are enduring water deficits that force the city to suck millions of cubic meters (billions of gallons) in emergency transfers from neighboring provinces - which, in turn, depletes their water supplies - thereby draining agricultural and economic opportunities.
In essence, Beijing is at the bull’s-eye of a potentially ruinous collision between accelerating growth and scarce freshwater reserves that is unfolding in China’s dry and resource-rich northern provinces. Beijing’s municipal government, though, is acting with authority and some speed to avoid a water crisis. The city is relocating thirsty industries to the coast, regulating water prices and cutting back on irrigated farmland. Beijing also is setting nationally significant standards for retrofitting sewage treatment systems to recycle wastewater for use in flushing toilets, washing cars, greening urban parks, cooling thermal power plants and other gray-water applications.