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UPDATED: 11:59, November 17, 2004
Water scarce while waste continues in Shenzhen
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Shenzhen is one of seven cities with experiencing severe water shortages in China.

"Shenzhen is very seriously short of water. Its per capita water resources these days is only one eighteenth of that two decades ago and is only one fifth of the minimum per capita water resources designated by international standards," said Wang Huailin, a local reporter who has long studied Shenzhen's water supply situation.

He said that 80 percent of Shenzhen's water was from exterior sources, mainly the Dongjiang River.

An official surnamed Li of the Shenzhen Water Resources Bureau estimated that by 2020, Shenzhen would need 2.8 billion cubic meters of water, 800 million cubic meters of that still to be sourced.

Li said the figure was only the basic human needs and did not take into account water for landscaping. "By that time, the city will be seriously short of (water) supply," he said.

One way to tackle the problem was to explore new water sources. The other was to raise Shenzhen people's awareness of using water sparingly, according to a circular from the city's water bureau.

But the grim reality was that most people were ignorant of the city's water situation and were using water extravagantly.

"I know that the building management uses a ton of water each day to wash the entrance way," said Zhang Zezi, who works in a deluxe office building in central Shenzhen. Shenzhen's per capita water consumption each month is three tons.

The city has been without rain for more than a month. But the management of a housing estate routinely washes the estate compound daily using a lot of water. "It's wasteful and unnecessary," said a resident surnamed Wu.

Wu said that while there had been frequent water supply cuts in his housing estate, the compound was still being washed.

"I often see water running from an unattended water hose. Why are people so careless" The water bureau official Li said it was unnecessary to wash outdoor areas every day. "There are other ways to clean the paving, such as using a mop," he said.

A woman surnamed Pan said the best way to save water was to raise people's awareness. "I don't think the city has done enough in this regard," she said.

Li said most people had the potential to save 10 to 20 percent of water a day. The water bureau recently surveyed 100 local companies and found that 15 percent of their water was wasted through leakage.

"Just go around your company frequently checking the water outlets and you can save the water," he said.

A woman named Zhang Yan said there were many ways to save water in day-to-day life. She pointed to some people's habit of letting water running while they brushed their teeth. "They should instead wet the brush, take a cup of water and turn off the tap. You can take another cup of water later," she said. In addition, water used to wash hands, face and vegetables should be stored to flush toilets, she said.

"In some sense, saving water is more important than exploring new water sources," Li said. Shenzhen should learn from Beijing and Shanghai in encouraging residents to save water, he said.

Source: Shenzhen Daily

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