China: As water demands grow sharply, supply is shrinking
China has 20 percent of the world's population, and 7 percent of its fresh water. As pressure mounts, officials are pushing conservation reforms such as reforestation and water taxes – and diverting water from the south to the north.
A 15-foot band of eroded red clay that surrounds Miyun Reservoir, one of Beijing’s largest sources of fresh water, serves as a stark reminder of the region’s severe water shortage.
Built 100 miles northeast of the capital in the 1960s, the reservoir has operated at less than a third of its capacity for years. A massive project now under way to divert water to Beijing from southern China will help alleviate demand, but protecting the reservoir from pollution remains a separate challenge.
China has 20 percent of the world’s population but only 7 percent of its fresh water – and it is quickly running out of the vital fluid.
Efforts to boost supply have provided temporary relief for major cities, but the central government is scrambling to preserve what water is left. Expanded conservation work, higher water prices, and new industrial regulations are on the table.