Groundwater shortage calls for urgent action
China has 20 percent of the world’s population but less than 6 percent of the groundwater.
Desalination could be another solution.
The resultant dependence on and over-extraction of groundwater are having severe impacts on Beijing, including subsidence.
Long Di, a researcher at Tsinghua University’s Institute of Hydrology and Water Resources, says: "Subsidence is a slow but progressive disaster, and it is irreversible.
The problem is particularly acute in Chaoyang district, which borders Beijing’s eastern suburbs－areas that are rapidly expanding with dense, high-rise buildings.
What makes the problem more challenging is that many buildings in Beijing’s rapidly subsiding districts are far taller.
One example is California’s 2015 water shortage.
California also encouraged municipalities to actively manage demand, and many imposed surcharges on individual users who exceeded stipulated limits.
China’s demand profile for water does not closely resemble California’s; both markets have high usage for agriculture (64 percent in China and 80 percent in California), but China’s manufacturing activity as a share of economic output is larger than California’s.
This is a crucial step in aggressively addressing groundwater depletion in urban areas, including Beijing.