Beijing’s groundwater table is likely to rise for a second year in 2017 thanks to increased rainfall, curbs on excessive groundwater use and increased water diverted from the country’s south. As of the end of 2016, the groundwater table in the Chinese capital was 25.23 meters deep, 0.52 meters higher than a year ago, said Hu Bo, an official with the Beijing Water Authority…Full Article: Xinhua July 2017

Key Points

  • By 2020, Beijing’s water consumption is forecasted to reach 4.3 billion cubic meters.
  • From December 2014 to early June 2017, according to the Beijing Waterworks Group, Beijing had received approximately 2.28 billion cubic meters of water (via the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, aka SNWDP) from the Yangtze River. As of mid-2017, more than 70% of Beijing’s urban areas tap water comes from the Yangtze River.
  • In 2016, Beijing received 660 mm [~26 inches] of rain.
  • From 1980 to 2015, Beijing’s groundwater table fell from 7.24 meters deep to 25.75 meters deep. Meanwhile, from the early 1980s to 2017, Beijing’s groundwater storage decreased by 10.2 billion cubic meters.

ChinaAg Comments

  • In April 2016, China’s State Council approved a regulation regarding the construction/operation of irrigation systems, including the implementing anti-leak measures and measuring water usage. The State Council is hoping to eventually implement a tiered pricing system for irrigation water.
  • In January 2016, China’s State Council published guidelines on instituting a tiered pricing system for water usage. These guidelines included stipulations that cash crop farmers and livestock companies would be charged a higher price based on their respective goods garnering higher values in the market place. Additionally, prices for groundwater would be higher than surface water if the former is in low supply.
  • In 2015, China needed 1 cubic meter of water to produce 1 kg of grain, which is below the average of 1.2 kg to 1.4 kg for developed nations.
  • In May 2015, China’s Ministry of Agriculture stated it hopes to limit the country’s water usage for irrigation to 372 billion cubic meters annually, while at the same time increase its coverage irrigation.
  • In December 2014, China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project (SNWDP) began operation (middle route) and was expected to roughly triple Henan’s wheat output from 150-200 kg per mu to 400-500 kg per mu (2.25-3 metric tons per hectare to 6-7.5 MTs per ha). The middle route of the water diversion project begins at the Danjiangkou Reservoir. Stretching across the Chinese Provinces of Henan and Hubei, the Danjiangkou Reservoir has a 1.7 million cubic meter capacity (9.5 billion cubic meters pumped through each year) and is tasked to supply water to Beijing and Tianjin. A total of 345,000 people were displaced to make room for the reservoir, which was the second largest relocation due to a water conservancy project (Three Gorges Dam being the first).
  • At the beginning of 2014, China had 63.5 million hectares of land under irrigation and hopes to have 66.7 million ha by 2020.
  • In January 2014, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and its Housing and Urban-Rural Development Ministry announced plans to institute a tiered pricing structure for household water usage by the end of 2015. The first tier will kicks in once a household reaches 80% of average consumption while the second tier will be set to 95%.
  • In 2013, China had 63.4 million hectares of farm land under irrigation and utilized a total of 59.1 million MTs of fertilizers, of which nitrogenous and compound (i.e. NPK) were the most commonly used. Henan province was the largest consumer of chemical fertilizers and Heilongjiang province had the most land under irrigation.
  • In January 2012, the surface area of Jiangxi Province’s Poyang Lake had shrunk 200 square kilometers (77 square miles) due to drought conditions and the Three Gorges Dam reservoir (located 500 km upstream). The lake typically has a surface area of 3,500 sq km (1,351 sq miles).
  • In 2011, China had a total of 88,605 water reservoirs. Hubei province, home to the Three Gorges Dam, has approximately 14% of China’s total reservoir capacity. Guangdong and Hunan provinces each have 6% of China’s total reservoir capacity.

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