Every Year, Beijing Uses 400 Billion More Gallons of Water Than It's Got

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The words "impending water shortage," bring to mind arid places in the Middle East or Las Vegas. But in Beijing, the per capita annual water availability is well below the United Nations' absolute water scarcity threshold, at just a tenth of the world average. China's capital city has outgrown its water supply.

According to statistics released by the Beijing Water Authority, Beijing's annual water consumption has reached 3.6 billion cubic meters (950 billion gallons), far more than the 2.1 billion cubic meters (554 billion gallons) locally available.

A 13-year drought made the water crisis a visible concern. In 2002, the lake at Beijing's Old Summer Palace dried up for seven months. In 2007 Kunming Lake, in the Summer Palace, dried up during the winter and spring.

Xu Xinyi, director of the Beijing Normal University's College of Water Sciences, blames the city's rising population. "We projected that Beijing's water capacity could support 12 million people, but Beijing's population has now reached 20 million people,"Xu told China Dialogue.

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