A "Green Olympics" for Beijing is very much on track. The city is on the road to realizing the dream of presenting a "Green Olympics" by successfully disposing of 90 percent of its urban sewage in an appropriate manner and ahead of schedule.
To date more than half of the city's treated wastewater, 360 million cubic meters, has been reused by the agricultural and industrial sectors. Significant use has been made of the water in power plant cooling towers.
Water Authority chief, Jiao Zhizhong, said yesterday, "We're confident that Beijing's water environment would reach, or even surpass, Olympic standards before the 2008 Olympic Games begin."
Beijing will increase its urban wastewater treatment rate to 92-93 percent this year by completing five more plants in urban and suburban areas, Jiao said.
New technologies will be introduced to improve the quality of the disposed wastewater as the authority's goal is to increase the volume of recycled water being used to 480 million cubic meters. This is one-tenth of the city's water supply.
The official said more than 2.16 million rural residents, or 65 percent of the capital's total rural population, had access to safe drinking water by the end of 2006. "Another 300,000 rural residents will have access to safe drinking water within the year," explained Jiao.
And as part of the authority's "Green Games" efforts Jiao also promised to clean all the canals, moats and lakes within the Sixth Ring Road. "This year we'll ensure that the clean areas stay clean and continue treating the rest including the lower reaches of Qinghe River near the main venue," said Jiao.
Beijing follows standard ecological norms while cleaning its rivers and lakes. "We don't change the natural course of rivers and ensure that their diverse plant and animal life isn't disturbed," Jiao added.
Despite all the authority's efforts Beijing still suffers from an acute shortage of water.
"Among the methods we've adopted to solve the problem are strict water resource protection and management, a search for new water sources, minimizing waste and a rationed supply policy," he said.
Eighty percent of urban homes in Beijing have installed water-saving equipment, 332 water-saving technologies are being used by industries, water-saving projects on croplands has increased to 20,000 hectares and 300 rainwater-recycling projects have been set up. This showed that," Beijing is doing remarkably well in reducing water consumption," Jiao said.
When the Olympics open next year Beijing will have started to receive 300 million cubic meters of water a year from four reservoirs in neighboring Hebei Province. And by 2010 the city would get another 1 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River.
(China Daily January 30, 2007)