According to new municipal regulations released yesterday, people wasting water in the capital from May 1 will face fines of up to 30,000 yuan (US$3,600). The announcement came as a senior official reminded a high-level gathering of the challenges of water shortages.
Liu Ning, chief engineer from the Ministry of Water Resources, said the water supply, vital to sustainable development, is likely to be stretched to its limit by 2030 as the population reaches 1.6 billion, with an urbanization rate of about 60 percent.
"Without integrated water resource management, the total annual supply will reach 800 to 900 billion cubic meters in the next 25 years or hit the limit of the country's total water supply," said Liu.
Beijing's new rules ban the use of clean water for gardening, for which rainwater and recycled water should be used, whilst unapproved use of water for public supply or fire control could attract a minimum fine of 10,000 yuan (US$1,200).
Quotas on household use were rejected in the face of public opposition to higher charges for overuse, and a suggested stipulation to cut the supply of those who refused to pay was also ruled out.
According to experts, China's water supply will fall 11 billion cubic meters short of demand each year despite increased supply capacity.
Over the past 20 years, water has become a major factor affecting the environment and its shortage poses a threat to sustainable development, said Wang Hao, executive secretary of Global Water Partnership China (GWP China), a non-governmental organization.
"It is a must for China to use integrated water resource management for future sustainability," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily, April 20, 2005)