Recycled Water Could Solve Beijing’s Water Woes, But Implementation Falls Short

In 2014, the capital began heavily relying on the South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), a massive infrastructure project that shuttles water from the south of China to its arid northern region.
Before China began building the world’s largest water transfer project, the Beijing government recognized that depleting regional reservoirs was not a viable long-term strategy.
Thus the city government turned to water recycling, which is a practice of reusing treated wastewater.
Yet the city has only five municipal-run centralized reuse treatment plants.
Currently, Beijing’s industrial sector uses 20 percent of Beijing’s reclaimed water.
Less than 50 percent of decentralized water recycling systems in Beijing are used.
Huo Chang’s CECEP colleague Jun Du explains: “My home has the zhōng shuǐ tap used for toilet flushing.
Huo Chang’s company estimates that currently only 10 percent of residential and commercial customers in Beijing have access to centralized reuse water, despite a majority of Beijingers’ stronger confidence in it.
Policymakers need to shift their focus to creating sustainable and more centralized water reuse systems that are well monitored.
For a more in-depth analysis of Beijing’s water recycling policies and their implementation gaps, see Danielle Neighbour’s forthcoming publication in the Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment.

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