Shenzhen faces historical drought with daily water shortage of 1 million cubic meters
Published: Dec 10, 2021 12:34 AM
A reservoir in Shenzhen Photo: VCG

A reservoir in Shenzhen Photo: VCG

Shenzhen, China's first special economic zone in South China's Guangdong Province, is facing the severest drought since the city was established, local authorities said on Thursday. 

The Dongjiang River, which provides more than 90 percent of the water consumed in Shenzhen, is facing the severest drought since 1963, the year with the lowest precipitation recorded in the city. The water level in the three main water reservoirs is now more than 55 percent lower than in previous years according to Zhang Jian'an, Shenzhen water resources authority official, media reported. 

The daily amount of water consumed in Shenzhen recently is about 5.4 million cubic meters. It is predicted that the city will face a lack of 1 million cubic meters of water every day this coming winter and spring.    

Under the impact of La Nina phenomenon, Shenzhen is very likely to face extremely low water discharge until next summer, according to Zhang. 

In addition to droughts, increasing water consumption is also worsening the water shortage in the city. According to Zhang, the yearly water consumption in 2021 has climbed by 9.3 percent so far, largely higher than the 2 percent in previous years. 

It is estimated that the city will consume more than 1.9 billion cubic meters of water, 150 million more than last year, which reaches a new high in total water consumption and scale, Zhang told media.  

The exceptional increase is likely a result of more people staying in the city during festivals due to the COVID-19 epidemic. The growing water consumption for production and for irrigation during droughts also add to the increase, Zhang explained. 

The Dongjiang River is a critical natural resource that supports the population of the Pearl Delta. The river provides water to more than 40 million people and six major cities including three economic hotspots: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. The basin covers an area of 35,340 square kilometers. It contributes 4.2 trillion yuan ($660 billion), about 40 percent of the total GDP of Guangdong Province in 2019. In the same year, the total GDP of Hong Kong was about HK$ 2.9 trillion ($372 billion), according to the Guangdong provincial Water Resources Department.  

The drought has lasted since this autumn as the water level of main rivers in the province is apparently lower compared to the same period in previous years, ringing the alarm of possible droughts in many places in Guangdong.

According to media reports, local authorities have issued a level IV alert, the highest level, on October 16 for the drought in the Pearl River. On November 1, the Guangdong provincial authority launched a level IV emergency drought response and reduced the amount of water taken from the Dongjiang River by 10 percent. 

Shenzhen authorities have come up with some measures to fill in the 1 million cubic meters daily water shortage.

Emergency reserve waters in local drinking water reservoirs can provide 500,000 cubic meters for the city every day, and the other half shortage would be solved via calling on local residents, companies, construction sites and shopping malls to enhance water recycling and reduce water consumption.  

Global Times