Moving water creates new environmental issue, says expert

Saturday, March 29, 2008
Issue 297, Page 5
Word count: 540
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung in Nanning

Mobilising excessive electricity to help transport fresh water for the Pearl River Delta regions during salinity-prone period was an evident issue that the Chinese government had to look at, said a water resources expert from the mainland yesterday.

Reporters from Macau, who were in the city of Nanning to report on the Macau delegation’s trip to China, met with director of Flood Prevention and Drought Control Headquarter in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Wang Chunlin, who talked about the past water transposition works from Guangxi to the lower stream of the Pearl River in order to ensure adequate fresh water supply to Macau, Zhuhai and other neighbouring regions.

As less electricity will be consumed during winter, which is also the usual drought season, Mr Wang said in order to activate the power stations in the upper stream of the Pearl River for extracting water and transferring it to the lower stream, “a lot of electricity had already been wasted”.

“Maybe the area at that time doesn’t plan to generate any power as the residents’ demand is little, but then it’s still necessarily for them otherwise regions in the lower stream will suffer from severe salinity problems,” the director told the reporters.

As a result, he added that his headquarters could not work on their own during each water transfer as they had to communicate with electricity departments and suppliers in advance in a bid to arrange a power-generating schedule. 

Although the reservoirs in Baise and Longtan in the Pearl River basin are still under construction, they started operating last year which Mr Wang said had greatly reduced the impact of salinity in Macau and Zhuhai.

Water in Guangxi is relatively ample compared with many other parts of mainland China, however, uneven distribution of rain water could also put the region in the risk of water shortages, Mr Wang said.

“Guangxi has about 1,300 metres of rainfall every year compared with just 200 to 300 metres in Xinqiang or other cities in the west,” he added.

The region will also experience a lack of water especially during November and December and in areas where no reservoirs or water resources projects are being built.

Therefore, the director said they were considering more work on water conservation such as educating farmers on how to irrigate wisely.

While the water charge in Macau is 4.39 patacas per cubic metre, in the city area of Guangxi it is just 1.5 yuan “because of the different amounts of natural water in each of the two places”.

Mr Wang said the national maximum standard of water usage per capita was 350 litres a day, but added that it was uncommon to see people consume over the limit.

By contrast, every person in Macau uses about 140 to 150 litres of water daily based on a household of three, according to previous information released by Macao Water.

Despite water resources in Guangxi being not insufficient, Mr Wang said government departments were concerned about environmental protection as “pollution is driven by abundant consumption of water”.

During 2005 and 2008, several water transpositions were carried out by the Guangxi government in which more than six billion cubic metres of water were extracted to the Pearl River’s lower stream to fight salinity.

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