China to shut down 6,900 wells

About 6,900 wells, which meet a quarter of Beijing's urban water supply, would be shut down gradually in the next five years by authorities in a bid to check the receding groundwater level.

Beijing: About 6,900 wells, which meet a quarter of Beijing's urban water supply, would be shut down gradually in the next five years by authorities in a bid to check the receding groundwater level.

The wells provide 240 million cubic metres of water annually, one fourth of the Beijing's urban supply, said Zhang Ping, deputy head of the Beijing water authority.

Ageing of facilities and poor management mean that the quality of water from wells cannot be guaranteed in some areas, resulting in a steady stream of complaints from citizens, Zhang was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

The middle route of the gigantic south-to-north water diversion project will soon come on-stream, bringing 1 billion cubic metres to Beijing each year from a reservoir on the Hanjiang River, making possible closure of the wells.

Since 1999, Beijing has used too much groundwater: about 6.5 billion cubic metres too much.

Over exploitation has led to environmental problems like subsidence.

The water table in parts of Beijing has dropped 12.8 metres since 1998 and more than 1,300 sq km of land has subsided over 50 centimetres.