Conservation efforts aid aquifer levels in Beijing

Underground water levels in the Chinese capital have risen for the first time in nine years, the Wall Street Journal reported, in part because of conservation measures tied to the Olympics.

Aquifer levels in Beijing have risen about half a metre this year, the report said, after having fallen about one metre each year since 1999 due to drought. The shortage had forced the city to dig ever-deeper wells, which provide the bulk of its water.

The increase comes despite warnings from environmentalists that the Olympics would put a greater strain on Beijing’s water resources, with water being diverted from neighbouring regions to supply the competition.

But officials said the water supply has been helped by summer rains, decreasing demand and greater water recycling. Water consumption fell to less than 3.4 billion cubic metres last year, the report said, from 4.04 billion cubic metres in 2000.

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