Efficient water use management in industry, agriculture and households is becoming increasingly important to fight against shortages in Guangdong Province, according to a hydrological expert.
"Water use efficiency is a must for the rational utilization of water as the province is suffering a prolonged drought," said He Guoqing, deputy director of Guangdong Hydrological Bureau.
The southern Chinese province is usually regarded as an area with plenty of water. It gets on average 1,777 millimeters of rain per year, while 419 billion cubic meters are available for use.
However, it has seen a lack of rainfall over the last few years, causing shortages for industrial, agricultural and domestic uses.
Zhanjiang, a coastal city in the southwestern part of the province, has been severely hit by chronic drought since 2003. The city saw 1,249 millimeters rain of last year, the lowest ever recorded.
At present, the per capita water resource in the province stands at 2,118 cubic meters, lower than that of the national level.
"Despite the shortage in rainfall, the waste of water in industrial, agricultural and household areas is also blamed for the water shortage in the province," He said.
As a result, He has called water for both business and household consumers to manage resources better and cut down on waste.
"If the water shortage continues, it will greatly hinder the province's economic development in the 20 years to come," He said.
Given the water loss rate reaching 15 percent, He said that Guangdong has much potential to develop into a water-efficient region by improving local residents' awareness of the need to conserve supplies.
A major area of concern is the amount of water wasted by business use.
At present, only about 40 percent of farming water and 20-40 percent of industrial water comes from recycled sources, while almost no water for urban residential use gets reused, sources with the Guangdong Hydrological Bureau said.
However, the national rate of recycled water being used in the farming and industrial sector is 75 percent and 55 percent respectively.
A recent survey also showed that the per capita daily water consumption is 379 liters in the province's urban areas, much higher than the national average of 218 liters.
The average annual water consumption on each mu (about 0.0667 hectares) of farmland in the province is 809 cubic meters, also much higher than that of the national level.
He suggested that water-saving management should be mainly introduced to large-scale farming and industrial enterprises as they consume the most amount of water.
Water-saving equipment should be developed and introduced to households to better reuse and conserve water, he said.
(China Daily February 22, 2006)