BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s green southern province of Guangdong is facing a huge water shortage due to pollution and inefficient use, state media said on Wednesday.
The threat to China’s manufacturing centre, which also supplies neighboring Hong Kong with most of its water, meant that in three years only a third of its water demand would be met, the China Daily said.
“By 2020, the shortfall will widen to about half of the province’s water demand, or more than 3.1 billion cubic meters, if no measures are taken to address the problem,” Zhang Hong’ou, president of the Guangzhou Institute of Geography, was quoted as saying.
Zhang said the province had abundant water resources but more than 3.1 billion cubic meters of sewage was discharged into rivers throughout Guangdong every year.
At least 16 million residents, or 14 percent of the city’s population, faced water shortages because of pollution.
“The authorities need to strengthen enforcement efforts to punish polluters and encourage water-saving measures,” said Chen Junhong, a professor at the geography institute.
The fight against pollution is exacerbated by local governments neglecting calls to crack down on polluting companies for the sake of economic growth, Chen added.
The State Environmental Protection Administration said in a statement on Monday that fines for some polluters of water resources had been raised by up to five times the previous amount to 500,000 yuan ($67,640).
In a central five-year plan that ended in 2005, water in 26 percent of “key” lakes and rivers targeted for clean-up across China was so contaminated that it was classified as unfit even to touch or to irrigate crops.
Emissions of sulphur dioxide, the industrial pollutant that causes acid rain, grew by almost a third, despite a goal set in 2000 to cut emissions by 10 percent.
Reporting by Beijing newsroom; editing by Nick Macfie