Wednesday, January 26, 2011

China's demand for desalination lags

Terra Daily: China's major desalination project in Tianjin, while seen as necessary to ease water shortages, hasn't generated the expected demand for the desalinated water since operations started there last April, The Guardian newspaper reports. The main drawback is the high cost of the water. Desalinated water costs $1.22 a cubic meter, compared with $0.75 for normal Tianjin water.

Even though cheaper water sources in China -- pumped from rivers, lakes and aquifers -- are rapidly depleting from decades of over-utilization, companies are reluctant to make the transition to desalinated water.

But experts also say that utilities are concerned that once they make the switch to desalinated water, they can no longer use traditional sources. "They don't want to give up the old resources because they know they won't get permission to use them again," said Wang Shichang, head of the desalination research center at Tianjin University, The Guardian reports. "But the delay won't last long. China is working on plans to further develop desalination because we face scarce water resources and rising demand."

The coastal port city of Tianjin, about 90 miles from Beijing, faces one of the most acute water shortages in China, with its per capita quota of water resources at 370 cubic meters, far lower than the internationally recognized warning level of 1,000 cubic meters per capita…

Railway station on Russian Street in Tianjin, 1900

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