Canadian Consulting Engineer

Beijing Olympics soaking up water supplies

The Canadian environmental group Probe International has issued a report saying that this year's Olympic Games in B...

July 7, 2008   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The Canadian environmental group Probe International has issued a report saying that this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing are contributing to a chronic water supply in the city.
Beijing is located in China’s arid northern plain and for water relies largely on diminishing stocks in underground reservoirs, some of which are 1,000 metres underground.
Probe International says that, “the city’s 200 or so rivers and streams are drying up and many of the city’s reservoirs are nearly empty.”
Yet for the “green” Olympic Games, which start August 8, musical water fountains and huge water landscapes and man-made lakes are being deployed throughout the city. The dried out Chaobai river was brought back to life to support the rowing competition by diverting water into it from another river via a 13-kilometre pipe. Neighbouring provinces are having to send their scarce water supplies into Beijing to augment its supply.
The Olympic Games will add around 5 per cent of water use, or 200 million cubic metres, to the normal use of water this year.
Probe International has long opposed large engineering water diversion projects, most famously opposing the Three Gorges Dam project with a sustained campaign in the 1990s.
The International Herald Tribune reports that the Chinese authorities know they have a problem. The newspaper says “Beijing has one of the world’s lowest per person available water resources,’ with about 1/30th of the average in the world.
The U.S. newspaper also reports that Beijing has spent around US $3 billion since it won the Olympic bid to build wastewater treatment plants and to move water intensive industries out of the city. The Olympic venues and the athletes’ village will use treated wastewater for its toilets and heating.


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