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Seawater Desalination to Relieve Water Shortage in Beijing
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China National Offshore Oil Cooperation, or CNOOC, plans to build up China's largest seawater desalination plant in order to help alleviate Beijing's serious water shortage.

The plant will be constructed in Tangshan, northern Hebei Province, and will boast a production capacity of 1.4 million cubic meters of fresh water per day.

A seawater desalination plant was under construction in Dagang, Tianjin City, on February 5, 2007. The handling capacity of the project per day is hoped to reach up to 100,000 tons, greatly appeasing stresses on the region's freshwater supplies. Dagang is located to the west of the Pacific Ocean on the shores of Bohai Bay.

In addition to providing water to the nearby chemical and electrical companies for industrial use, including the Shougang Group Corporation, CNOOC is conducting surveys on the feasibility of transporting water to Beijing city for civilian use.

Beijing has been afflicted by drought for the past eight consecutive years. Experts suggest that transferring the desalinated seawater from the Bohai Sea to Beijing, 100 kilometers away, is one way to tackle the capital's water crisis.

Dr. Guo Youzhi with the Chinese Membrane Industry Association told the Beijing Evening News, in recent years, the cost of water desalination has gradually fallen; therefore, the price of the water is much lower than before, charged at less than 5 yuan per cubic meter.

He said the desalinated seawater is drinkable after having been calcified. Even adding the pipeline costs, the water would finally be charged to Beijing residents at 4.5 yuan per cubic meter. From this point of view, desalinated seawater is expected soon to become Beijing's second largest source of water.

There are only seven international enterprises able to provide the membrane necessary for seawater desalination, as well as two Chinese companies. So, if seawater desalination plants can be set up next to power plants in China's costal regions, the cost of purified seawater would be greatly reduced, perhaps falling below 4 yuan per cubic meter.

According to the State Development and Reform Commission, and some other state-level agencies, desalinated seawater is expected to contribute 16 to 24 percent of the water supply in coastal areas by 2010, with a daily processing capacity of up to 3 million cubic meters in 2020.

The 15th World Water Day occurred on March 22, with the theme of "Coping with Water Scarcity".

(CRI March 23, 2007)

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