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Program helps save water in urban areas

Hou Liqiang
Updated: May 18,2021 06:50    China Daily

China has managed to save 97.2 billion cubic meters of water in its urban areas in the past two decades thanks to government conservation efforts, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

The water saved is nine times the amount diverted annually by the middle route of the South-North Water Diversion Project, which mainly serves North China, where Beijing is located.

The sponge city program, which China started piloting in 2015 to absorb and capture rain water for utilization and flood control, has played an important role, the ministry said, as the country launched its annual publicity program for water conservation.

Over 40,000 sponge city projects have been completed in urban areas across the country, which could help utilize 350 million metric tons of rain a year, the ministry said.

It said the efficient use of water in China has also been enhanced as the country builds demonstration cities for water conservation and increases the use of reclaimed water.

The 130 such demonstration cities helped reduce per capita daily water consumption in urban areas from 518 liters in 2000 to 323 liters in 2020, it said.

It said a total of 14.6 billion cubic meters of reclaimed water was utilized in cities across the country last year, 15 times more than in 2006 and about one-fifth of the annual water supplied to the urban areas.

Han Yu, deputy secretary-general of the ministry's urban construction department, said the ministry will endeavor to improve urban water recycling, "making cities more capable of absorbing, retaining, purifying and discharging water".

The ministry will also ramp up infrastructure construction to make cities more resilient to extreme weather and make urban water supply more sustainable, he said.

Urban areas are home to 60 percent of China's population and produce over 70 percent of its GDP but account for just 10 percent of its annual water consumption, according to the ministry.

Despite China ranking 6th in the world for total water reserves, its per capita water resources stand at only 2,100 cubic meters, less than one-third of the world's average.

China is also confronted with uneven distribution of water resources.

In 2002, the country started a giant water diversion project that sends water from the Yangtze River Basin to northern parts of the country to address the problem.

The country is still expanding the project. Its middle and eastern routes are already in operation, but the eastern route extended its service area further north to Hebei province and Tianjin on May 10.