The use of unconventional water sources in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is on the rise


Last month, China has announced a new five-year plan that includes doubling the use of “unconventional water” sources by 2025. As part of the plan, the country could raise the rate of treated sewage by over 25 per cent by 2025. Recycled municipal wastewater, seawater desalination, water reuse in the mining sector and stormwater harvesting are some of the approaches that will be used to meet the target.


Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash


The amount of recycled water used in this region ranks first in the country. The utilization rate of recycled water reaches 72 million cubic meters, and the amount of industrial water consumption drops by 32.4%. At the same time, the region increasingly uses unconventional water sources in industries with high water consumption. On the path of the region's development, the use of unconventional water sources is inevitable as the region faces a water shortage. 


Some of the industries with the highest water consumption include the paper industry, petroleum and petrochemical industry, energy sector, chemical industry, to name a few. How to improve the level of unconventional water utilization in these industries has been the focus of attention in the context of regions' sustainable development. 


Last week on December 3 the initiative become official when the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the commitment of the region to doubling the use of unconventional water sources such as wastewater, seawater, and reclaimed water in the industries with high water consumption. 


As of the beginning of 2019, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region initiated industrial water-saving initiatives that aim to achieve the international level of water efficiency in key high-water-consuming industries in the region by 2022, and the reuse rate of industrial water of 93% or more.


In Beijing, reclaimed water is now used as an alternative water source. According to statistics, the annual utilization of recycled water in Beijing last year reached 1.201 billion cubic meters. 


As a large port city, Tianjin has always been one of China's most important industrial hubs. This is why increasing the scale and efficiency of Tianjin's reclaimed water utilization is a must for the green development and transformation of the country. As of December last year, the utilization rate of recycled water in Tianjin has reached 40%, and industrial production enterprises that meet the conditions for the utilization of recycled water are actively promoting its use. Earlier this year, the amount of used recycled water has reached 72 million cubic meters, with the recycled water utilization pipeline network still in the development phase. 


The water-saving measures in another industrial hub of the north, Hebei, require industries to improve the use of unconventional water sources such as wastewater, seawater, and reclaimed water. Water is indispensable for every process in industries with high water consumption such as the steel industry. Improving water use efficiency and recycling rate will further effectively alleviate the current situation of regional water shortages. In the first three quarters of this year, the amount of new water used by factories in industries with higher water consumption continued to decrease. Some key steel companies have dropped its use to less than two tons. Water consumption for 10,000 yuan of industrial added value has dropped from 22.5 cubic meters to 15.2 cubic meters, a cumulative drop of 32.4%.


The Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region is an emerging economic powerhouse of northern China that has undergone major economic and infrastructural changes in recent decades. Over the last few years, the region has been involved in heavy industry and manufacturing, which has taken a huge toll on the environment. The water resources of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region are very scarce, with the region having some of the most polluted waters in the country.