Desalinated seawater will supply a third of Beijingers' domestic tap water starting 2019, a city water company announced on Monday.
A million tons of water should fulfill one-third of the daily needs of Beijing residents, said Wang Xiaoshui, desalination department director at Beijing Enterprises Water Group.
The water costs 8 yuan ($1.28) a ton, the Beijing Times reported.
The capital city's domestic tap water currently costs about 4 yuan per ton.
The company researched and developed its own reverse osmosis membrane technique last year and will use it for a 1-million-ton desalination project under construction in Caofeidian district of Tangshan in Hebei Province to be completed by 2019, explained Deputy General Manager Liu Fushun.
The company plans to spend 7 billion yuan on the desalination works and 10 billion yuan on 270 kilometers of pipeline.
Beijing Enterprises Water Group started desalinating seawater in March 2012, transporting 50,000 tons of freshwater from the Caofeidian coastal land reclamation project about 200 kilometers from Beijing and 120 kilometers from Tianjin.
Ocean currents make the water cleaner and better for desalination in Caofeidian than other areas of the Bohai Gulf.
A chemical plant takes the water and a saltworks processes the salt, the company said.
Beijing has been suffering drought since 1999, China News Week quoted Beijing Waterworks Group as saying.
The city's per capita water consumption is 100 cubic meters, below the international water-shortage level of 500 cubic meters, China Economic Weekly reported.
Since the Hebei section of the North-South Water Diversion Project began operations in September 2008, 1.5 billion cubic meters of water have been moved to Beijing from the province's four reservoirs.
Desalination can help relieve the water shortage, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times, but can also cause pollution.
"In the long term, the eventual solution is to save and recycle used water at the consumer end," Ma said.