A Chinese water expert has warned north China's Hebei Province about their overuse of groundwater over the past thirty years, saying that it has triggered a string of ecological and geological disasters.
Since 1976, Hebei had overused a total of 120 billion cubic meters of ground water, an amount equivalent to the water storage of 200 Baiyangdian, the largest freshwater lake in north China, said Wei Zhimin, a water expert in Shijiagzhuang, capital of Hebei Province.
Baiyangdian covers about 366 square kilometers and consists of 143 small lakes.
Hebei's rivers provide clean fresh water to millions of people in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin.
On the one hand, Hebei admitted overusing 5 billion cubic meters of groundwater each year since 2000, Wei said. On the other hand, the province is suffering a severe water shortage. A Hebei resident currently only has 305 cubic meters of water. According to international standard, regions with less than 500 cubic meters per capita water resources are considered to be in severe water shortage, Wei said.
The water expert said the excessive use of groundwater has led to ground sinking and collapsing in Hebei.
Hebei has seen 40,000 square meters of ground sink, and Cangzhou City has sunk by two meters, Wei said.
In addition, overuse of ground water has also triggered seawater intrusion, water salinization, drying of the ecological environment and other ecological disasters, Wei said.
The water expert recommended economical use of water by everybody and also called for legislation to curb the excessive use of ground water.
(Xinhua News Agency July 24, 2006)