BEIJING, April 29 China's water-stressed capital
Beijing will raise water prices from next month with a new
tiered pricing system to put more of the burden on heavy
business users as it seeks to protect scare resources, state
media reported on Tuesday.
While more than 90 percent of households will see prices
rise by just 1 yuan ($0.16) per cubic metre, from 4 yuan to 5
yuan, there will be a much larger increase for big industrial
consumers, Xinhua news agency said.
Major water consumers such as car-washes and bath houses
will see prices jump to 160 yuan per cubic metre, from the a
previous range of between 61.68 yuan and 81.68 yuan, the report
Golf courses and ski resorts - many of which rely on
artificial snow machines in arid Beijing - will also pay for 160
yuan per cubic meter, it added.
"For those big consumers, we hope the new pricing system
will push them to consider upgrading their facilities for water
saving and recycling," Xinhua quoted Liu Bin, deputy head of the
Beijing Water Authority, as saying.
Beijing's annual water consumption has reached 3.6 billion
cubic meters, "which is at a huge environmental cost", Liu
The city has only 100 cubic meters of water available per
person, just a tenth of the U.N. "danger threshold", Xinhua
Underground water levels in Beijing have dropped 12.8 meters
since 1998 with some 6.5 billion cubic meters of ground water
overpumped, Liu added.
Money raised from the increased charges will be used in a
special fund for saving water and be invested in water saving
schemes as well as improving public awareness of the issue,
Situated close to the outlying parts of the Gobi Desert,
Beijing can go for months without significant rainfall,
especially in the winter, while dramatic summer storms flood the
streets and overwhelm drains.
Despite public concern about China's rapidly degrading
environment, awareness of water conservation is low in many
parts of the country, especially in Beijing, where hosepipes can
be left running all day to water gardens and other green spaces.
($1 = 6.2530 Chinese Yuan)
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alison Williams)