Beijing to fight water waste in “luxury” sector

Beijing is stepping up measures to cut water waste with checks on water use in "luxury" services such as car washes, golf courses and saunas, the Chinese state news agency reported on Tuesday.

The amounts of water used by the biggest consumers will be monitored, and fines up to US$1,250 imposed on those “luxury sector” companies that use more than their share of water.

The move is an effort to lessen the impacts of the worst drought Beijing has seen in seven years. Rainfall decreased by 72% over the last year, amounting to just 9mm in the past four months, or 13% of the Chinese national average.

The crackdown on water-wasteful car washes is the latest in a series of measures aimed at cutting water waste in the region, along with water recycling and rainwater collection.

The Chinese government aims for water recycling in the capital to reach 360 million tonnes this year, with at least 300 car washes running on recycled water and 300 rainwater collection devices soon to appear across the city.

“Our goal is that by the end of this year, 80 per cent of the city’s households will have water-saving facilities,” said Yu Yaping of the Beijing Water Authority.

While China is home to more than 20% of the world’s population, it has just 7% of the world’s total water resources, resulting in a water crisis made worse by an accelerating economic growth.

Last week, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao pledged to take action against water shortages that affect large parts of China, including the Beijing region. More than 300m people in China’s rural regions are short of drinking water.

The situation is worsened by severe pollution, which renders 40% of the water in China’s major rivers fit only for industrial use, according to government estimates.

Goska Romanowicz

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