Desalinating water in China

A fisherman at a seawater canal, near a cooling tower of the desalination plant in Tianjin, China. Photo: Gilles Sabrie for The New York Times

As you all know, northern China suffers from a shortage of freshwater.  While a big part of its solution to this problem has been to invest in ‘big development’ engineering projects like the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, it has also been making real progress in water conservation and recycling in urban regions like Tianjin.  At the same time, the 12th Five Year Plan has signaled the government’s intention to ramp up China’s desalinization capacity.  An article in today’s New York Times focuses on China’s growing desalinization industry, and government plans to invest about $31 billion over the next five years.  “The latest goal is to quadruple production by 2020, from the current 680,000 cubic meters, or 180 million gallons, a day to as many as three million cubic meters, about 800 million gallons, equivalent to nearly a dozen more 200,000-ton-a-day plants like the one being expanded in Beijiang. ”  Demand for freshwater is expected to grow 63% by 2030 in China, “gallon for gallon, more than anywhere else on earth.”  The article details some of the progress China has already made in cutting its freshwater consumption:

In Tianjin, deemed a model city for water conservation, 90 percent of water used in industry is recycled; 60 percent of farm irrigation systems use water-saving technologies; 148 miles of water-recycling pipes snake beneath the city. Apartments in one 10-square-mile area of town feature two taps, one for drinking water and one for recycled water suitable for other uses.

The article points out that China is investing in importing the most advanced desalinization technology in a bid to become a world leader in the production of fresh water.  Many European and US-based companies are partnering with Chinese companies to build new plants up and down the Chinese coast.

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One Response to Desalinating water in China

  1. Pingback: Just fix the leaking taps | geography3822

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