Despite being just a hop away from the ocean, Beijing is suffering from a serious water shortage. China’s capital city has a chronic lack of water despite recent attempts to provide more water to its 22 million inhabitants, and the problem has become so serious that the city plans to turn to the nearby sea. The Global Times reports that construction has begun on a gigantic desalination plant in the Caofeidian district of Tangshan, and once completed it could supply the city with a full third of its water needs.
Beijing has been functioning at a water level that is one-fifth the international water shortage level. That’s just 100 cubic meters of water for 22 million people. With few other attractive options left, the city has decided to scrub sea water with a new $1.1 billion dollar plant and accompanying $1.6 billion dollars-worth of pipelines to get the water from the ocean to the city.
The plant should be completed in 2019 and will be capable of desalinating one million tons of water each day. The plant will use a locally developed proprietary process and the result will be water that costs a pricey $1.29 per ton, double the cost of diverting reservoir water. This plant is in addition to an existing plant that is already supplying 50,000 tons a day with plans to increase that amount to 180,000 tons a day and is part of Beijing’s larger water desalination program. This newest plant makes the program the biggest desalination project in China. Both plants are run by Aqbewg, which is part of the state-run Beijing Enterprises Water Group and Aqualygn.