The population of China’s capital has doubled since 1980, and, though agricultural and industrial water use is down, municipal use is up.
Beijing is at the bull’s-eye of a potentially ruinous collision between accelerating growth and scarce freshwater reserves that is unfolding in China’s dry and resource-rich northern provinces. But the city’s municipal government is acting with authority to avoid a water crisis by relocating thirsty industries to the coast, regulating water prices, and cutting back on irrigated farmland.
*Prices in other Asian cities based on use of 15 cubic meters per month. Source: International Benchmarking Network for Water and Sanitation Utilities, 2010.
*Prices are representative of the least expensive and most expensive water rates in the 20 largest U.S. cities. Prices are based on use of 45 cubic meters per month; the average for a family of four. Source: Circle of Blue, 2011.
Graphic by Justin Manning and Stephanie Meredith, undergraduate students at Ball State University.
Made to accompany Off the Deep End — Beijing’s Water Demand Outpaces Supply Despite Conservation, Recycling, and Imports, an article by Nadya Ivanova. Ivanova—who has reported from China, Europe, and the United States—is a Chicago-based reporter and producer for Circle of Blue. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions by Jennifer Turner, Washington, D.C.-based director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Research assistance by Zifei Yang, research intern at the China Environment Forum.