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Beijing neighbor supplies water to ease thirst

(Xinhua)

23:38, October 23, 2011

SHIJIAZHUANG - A small county in north Hebei province has begun supplying water to its neighbor Beijing to ease the capital city's thirst.

Chicheng county, about 180 kilometers northwest of Beijing, will provide 15 million cubic meters of water to Beijing from now to the end of November, said Li Min, a top county official.

A major water source for the capital city, Chicheng provides for 53 percent of the water in Miyun Reservoir, the largest storage facility in north China.

This means one third of Beijing's drinking water comes from Chicheng.

Despite a decrease in precipitation, the county provided 140 million cubic meters of water to Beijing in the past eight years, averaging 17 million cubic meters annually, Li said.

To ensure water quality, he said Chicheng has curbed 1,850 square kilometers of soil erosion and reduced sand and sludge discharge by 1.6 million tonnes annually.

The county, with a population of 280,000, also closed down a number of polluting plants and mines to minimize water pollution.

It has saved at least 20 million cubic meters of irrigation water annually by encouraging farmers to switch from rice to corn and other less water-intensive crops to bolster the capital's water supplies, according to a deal between the governments of Hebei and Beijing.

Beijing's water shortage has worsened as its permanent population nears 20 million. Official figures suggest 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."

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