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Beijing3billion Dollar Water Project*

Beijing to invest 24 bln yuan solving water shortage

(06/21/2001) (xinhua)

China plans to invest 24 billion yuan (US$2.89 billion) in a number of projects in the next four to five years to solve the water shortage in Beijing and its surrounding areas.

Officials from the Ministry of Water Resources and Beijing Municipality said at a press conference Thursday that the State Council has approved the plan on Beijing's water resources utilization.

The Beijing municipal government will invest 17 billion yuan in projects for water saving, pollution control and water recycle.

Beijing is one of the most populous regions in China. Its annual water consumption reached 4 billion cubic meters. With economic development and continuous drought, Beijing is now facing a severe water shortage.

Zhang Jiyao, vice-minister of Water Resources, attributed the shortage to population increase outpacing environment carrying capacity.

Statistics show that Beijing's industrial sector used 1.1 billion cubic meters of water every year. In the next five years, 136 water-saving projects will be built in this sector.

Beijing also plans to build 16 sewage treatment plants to ensure 90 percent of sewage be treated in the next three years. Currently, Beijing produces 1.3 cubic meters of sewage every year, of which, 22 percent is treated.

The water price for residents will also be increased to some six yuan in 2005 from today's two yuan.

Most of Beijing's urban water come from Guanting and Miyun reservoirs. Because of severe pollution in Shanxi and Hebei provinces, Guanting Reservoir lost its function as a drinking water resource in 1997.

Zhang Jiyao noted that funds from the central fisc will be used in projects in Hebei and Shanxi provinces, which will help the upper reachs develop water-saving agriculture, build sewage treatment plants, close severely polluting companies and carry out afforestration. 

(Original Len: 2097 Condensed Len: 2461)

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