In essence, it is established that the sharp increase in the demand for water in the past fifty years is attributed to among other factors; the consequences of agricultural, industrial and increased consumer demand resulting from a larger population. As well, the report explores some of the solutions to the issue of water scarcity in China amongst which includes increasing the water efficiency, expanding the supply of water and the general improvement of public participation in effective usage of water.
Water is exceedingly essential human existence besides being a precious commodity. With the endless development of the world, the demand for water continues to increase. In particular, the drastic increase in population in the past fifty years is a major contributing factor to the sharp increase in demand as there is equal increase in demand for the water to be used for irrigation for food production. Semi arid and arid areas receive a greater impact of the water shortage. Having been authorized by Premier of Western Australia Colin Barnett, the main aim of this report is thus to highlight the key causes of increased demand for water in China.
Key causes of increased demand for water in China
China’s population is 22 percent of the world’s population. The significant growth in the country’s population has come at a tremendous cost to the country’s environment. Despite the country’s better economic growth rate of ten percent, the environmental deterioration and constraints typically pose threat to the population’s health. In essence, both economic growth and the population’s well-being are dependent on water. Equally, economic activities impacts water quality and availability in one way or another. It was realized that China’s per capita water hardly a quarter of the world’s average despite its larger population. Basically, the increased demand for water in China is attributed to consequences of industrial, agricultural and consumer demand (increase in population).
i. Increase in population and water demand urban residents
The study realized that with the ever increasing population, the consumption of water in the river basin as well increases. Larger population significantly creates heavy pressure on the available water. The population in both urban and rural areas keeps increasing yearly. For instance, in 2000, the annual water demand by urban residents was 18.9 x 109m3( Yunfeng, Li, Guohui, Song et. al., 2008). It is however projected that water demand by same urban residents is likely to be 73 × 109m3 due to the dramatic growth rate of the population growth rate.
Equally, larger population increases the demand for water since water is a basic commodity for the existence of every individual. For instance, it was realized that population growth has greatly changed water condition of water resources in particular in the Tarim River Basin. This resulted in water loss and sedimentation in plains reservoirs as well as the drying up of terminal Taitema Lake. This reduced the supply level of water. Thus, with a reduction in water supply, human activities like cultivation and abuse of water and an increase in the consumer demand from the larger population, significantly increase the demand for water in these areas in China.
ii. Water demand for agriculture
The northern part of China is generally arid. This notwithstanding, it is the hub for food production. Thus, a lot of water is needed for agricultural purposes. Water is needed for the irrigation of the arid areas so that food production can be undertaken without a hitch. For instance, Groundwater is over pumped (6. 53 × 109m 3 every year) in the regions of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province simply because there is a mismatch in water supply and water demand. In the China’s semi arid and arid areas, water is heavily used to carry out irrigation.
China generally depends on irrigation for it to engage in agricultural production for its large population. This is one factor that causes the increased demand for water. Xin 2003 argues that the water needed for irrigation has increased four times during the last fifty years. More water is needed to cater for food production to cater for the needs of the country’s fast growing population.
iii. Water Demand from Industry
China is getting industrialized at an alarming rate. Water is needed in the industries for various industrial production processes (Xin, 2003). China’s value of industry id forecast to increase 6% annually from 2000 to 2020. This basically implies that a lot of water must be supplied basically for industrial usage. Thus, water demand on industry must subsequently increase. The country constantly draws more and more water to supply the needs of its industries which grows at a faster rate. This is thus a key cause of increased demand for water in China.
Solutions to the issue of water scarcity
The research identified the following as the major solutions to the issue of water scarcity in China.
i. Expansion of water supply
Basically, the country should find more traditional sources of supply (Xin, 2003). Water can as well be diverted from one region to another. The country can build dam rivers, hydroelectric plants and to transfer water from region to region.
ii. Improving efficiency
Water scarcity is motivated by gross misuse of water in some of the sectors. Wasteful use is thus major cause shortage in water quantity. Thus, hydrologists and water managers need to design mechanisms that will not result in water misuse but those which aggravate efficiency e.g. raising price of water (Xin, 2003)
iii. Cloud seeding
The country can as well use cloud seeding to make its own rain so that quantity of water is boosted (Taylor, 2004).
The research identified that the demand for water has increased significantly in China in the past fifty years as a consequence of industrial, agricultural and consumer demand. As well, it was realized that the issue of water scarcity can only be addressed by generally expanding the water supply, cloud seeding as well as improving the water usage efficiency.
The author of this paper thus makes the following recommendations. To meet the ever increasing demand for water from the population, agriculture and from industries, China should tremendously;
i. Expand its water supply.
ii. Make efficient use of water
iii. Transfer water to arid and semi arid regions
iv. Improve efficiency.
Ellis, Linden, Turner, Jennifer and Tianjie, Ma. “Seeking Solutions for Water Scarcity in China.” (2008), accessed August 26, 2012, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/program/china-environment-forum
Taylor, John. “Cloud seeding solution to China's water shortage”(2004), accessed August 26, 2012, http://www.abc.net.au/cgi-bin/common/printfriendly.pl?http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1158214.htm
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