Water diversion, frequent downpours ease Beijing's thirst for water

10:11, July 29, 2011      

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A car submerges in the ponding rain water on a road in Beijing, capital of China, July 26, 2011. Beijing was hit by a heavy rainfall through Tuesday night to early Wednesday morning. (Xinhua/Li Zhiyong)

Water being diverted from north Hebei Province reached Beijing's water pumping station on Thursday, bringing a much-needed supplement to keep tap water running for 20 million people living in the mega-metropolitan.

Under a water diversion program signed between the city and neighboring Hebei, a total of 120 million cubic meters of water will be diverted from four reservoirs in Hebei to Beijing in 90 days. This is the third time that it sent water to Beijing. The first time came during the Beijing Olympics.

The Hebei provincial bureau of water resources said Hebei will take the reservoirs' water volume into consideration as it decides how much more water it will send throughout the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, frequent downpours in Beijing this month have also been helpful to refill Beijing's largest reservoir to 1 billion cubic meters of water.

"I haven't seen the Miyun Reservoir filled with so much water since 2004. I had been worrying that it was drying up," said Liu Lizhi, a veteran data analyst with the Beijing water affairs department.

Beijing received precipitation of 301 mm this month, which more than doubled the recorded amount during the same period last year, and brought a total of 52 million cubic meters of water to 16 reservoirs, including Miyun in Beijing.

Liu said even back in 2004, the Miyun Reservoir only held 700 million cubic meters of water, and the water volume has been declining due to consecutive droughts in the past 12 years.

Official figures suggest that the city's per capita water resource availability has dropped to 100 cubic meters a year, or one-tenth of the United Nations' "danger threshold."

Beijing, along with other water-needy cities in north China, has longed for a water supply from the China's South-North Water Diversion Project, which is expected to take Yangtze River water in the south and bring it north through a 1,400-km-long canal by 2014.

A 307-km-long section of the canal in Hebei was completed in 2008, through which water was diverted to Beijing to help ensure the water supply during the Olympics.

But Hebei cannot be relied upon as a guaranteed backup for Beijing because it suffers from its own serious water shortage.

Source: Xinhua
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