A total of 525 million cubic meters of water diverted from China's enormous south-to-north water diversion project have flowed into Beijing since December 27, 2014, the day the capital started to receive the diverted water, according to the latest figure provided by the Beijing Water Authority.
The Beijing section is part of the central route of the water diversion project, which begins at Danjiangkou Reservoir in the middle-upper reaches of the Hanjiang River, Central China's Hubei Province. It is designed to supply 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year on average for some 100 million people in the dry northern regions, including the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, as well as Henan and Hebei provinces, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
However, environmentalists said that the scheme cannot solve the capital's water crisis, as Beijing has been plagued by water shortage problems for over a decade.
Beijing still needs an extra 100 million cubic meters of water this year despite the arrival of the diverted water, Wang Junwen, a senior engineer with the Beijing Water Authority, told the Global Times.
"At present the capital receives an average of 3.45 million cubic waters every day from the water diversion project," Wang said.
Among the 525 million cubic meters of water Beijing received as of early September, 375 million cubic meters are used as drinking water for the some 20 million Beijingers, and the rest goes to the city's reservoirs and rivers, according to Wang.
Over the past decade, Beijing extracted an excess of 500 million cubic meters of underground water each year, and also used 300 million cubic meters of water from neighboring regions, Wang said.
The over-extraction of underground water has caused subsidence and environmental damage in Beijing.
"Beijing has been seeing a growing number of sink holes in its city streets in recent years, and the over-extraction also caused unstable foundations of buildings as well as affecting the growth of plants," Zhang Junfeng, a water conservancy expert who has been monitoring Beijing's water condition since 1993, told the Global Times.
Beijing has 6,000 wells, but it plans to shut them all down by 2020, according to Xinhua. "However, Beijing is only about to receive a total of 700 million cubic meters of water from the diversion project by the end of this year, which means that it still lacks about 100 million cubic meters of water," Wang said.
Water resource experts said that the "south water" could only alleviate Beijing's water-shortage temporarily, in the long run, the capital has to control its population growth as well as restructuring its economy.
The water diversion project will take about 15 years to reach its designated goal of diverting about 1.2 billion cubic meters of water to Beijing, as the supporting projects also take several years to complete, said Wang Hao, a water resources specialist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, according to the news portal jiemian.com.
Meanwhile, the water level of the Hanjiang River has been declining for 140 years, and the south-to-north water diversion project will only make it worse, Wang Yongchen, a Beijing environmentalist who visited the Hanjiang River in August, told the Global Times.
Beijing's rainfall has been consistently low since 1999, but its population grew by 600,000 per year before 2013, according to Wang Junwen.
If Beijing's population continues to soar, Beijing will restart exploit water from neighboring provinces in a few years, Zhang said.
"In fact, the whole of the densely populated Central and North China is facing a water crisis," Zhang said.
Apart from a growing population, Beijing also has too many entertainment venues and factories consuming excessive amount of water, such as golf courses, artificial ski resorts and chemical factories, according to Wang Yongchen, a former reporter.
Some 60 golf courses in Beijing consume 40 million cubic meters of water annually, 20 times of the total volume of Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace, according to a 2012 environment development report conducted by NGO Friends of Nature.
Ну, и повод для всенародного ликования на сегодня:
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