A severe water shortage in the drainage area of China's third longest river was predicted by an official with the Ministry of Water Resources on Monday.
By 2010 the gross yearly water consumption in the Pearl River area would reach 100.5 billion cubic meters leaving a huge supply gap of 13.5 billion cubic meters, said Li Hailiang, deputy director of the Pearl River Water Resources Committee's water resources section.
Li even predicted the shortage would worsen to about 26.8 billion cubic meters by 2020 and said the problem was already one of the most serious obstacles to the development of the area.
Although abundant overall the water resources of the Pearl River were unevenly distributed geographically and often difficult to harness due to the difficult terrain, he said.
However, he pointed out that the most important reason for the shortage was the inefficiency of water utilization. "Terrible water waste can be seen in many places in the Pearl River's drainage area today," Li said. Effective measures should be taken to stop the waste, he said.
Li cited the local brewing industry as an example suggesting at least 50 percent of water could be saved in the beer-making process. On average 10.2 tons of water was used to produce one ton of beer in China but the consumption of the Pearl River Beer Group had been reduced to 5.08 tons.
The beer giant was using technology to improve efficiency, said Wang Zhibin, deputy general manager of the group, one of China's three biggest brewers. Wang said its efforts concentrated on the utilization of vapor and the recycling of wastewater.
China's total beer production was 31.6 million tons last year. "By this count China's brewery industry could had saved 160 million tons of water last year if they took our measures," said Wang. The saved water could meet the needs of a city of two million people.
(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2006)