News Feature | May 15, 2014

Desalination May Treat A Third Of Beijing's Drinking Water By 2019

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Facing a water scarcity crisis, China is investing billions in desalination, relying on this costly technology to treat water in its capital city. 

"A coastal desalination plant planned for east of Beijing could provide a large portion of the drinking water for the parched Chinese capital by 2019, the state news media quoted officials as saying,” the New York Times reported.  

The goal is to finish the plant by 2019, the Times reported, citing officials. They projected it will supply one million tons of drinking water per day, which could potentially cover a third of the city's population. Beijing has more than 22 million people, the report said.  

The price tag on the plant is $1.1 billion, Gizmodo reported. The facility will use reserve osmosis (RO) technology developed in China. A $1.6 billion network of pipes will transfer water to the city. The water delivered from this plant with cost $1.29 a ton, which is twice the price of transferring water from provincial water reservoirs, the report said. 

The new plant marks the second phase in one of China's largest desalination projects. "The first phase of the project, a plant east of Beijing in a district of Tangshan called Caofeidian, already produces about 50 million liters of water each day for the district’s use," Eurasia Review reported.  

The new plant will be developed by Beijing Enterprises Water Group, the biggest publicly traded water-treatment company in China, according to Bloomberg. 

China has some water-lush region, but scarcity is a major challenge in northern China. Beijing, in particular, is struggling. "The capital’s water problem is severe. Groundwater and surface water supplies have been severely depleted as the city has mushroomed, and the level of water scarcity, as measured by United Nations standards, is worse than in the arid countries of the Middle East." 

Check out Water Online's Desalination Solution Center for more.   

Image credit: "The Forbidden City, Beijing," Francisco Diez © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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