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Confronting the Water Crisis of Beijing Municipality in a Systems Perspective: Focusing on Water Quantity and Quality Changes
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Ecology.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, water systems worldwide are under crisis due to excessive human interventions particularly in the arid and semi-arid regions. In many cities, the water quantity situation has become more and more serious, caused either by absolute water shortage or water pollution. Considering population growth and fast urbanization, ensuring adequate water supply with acceptable water quality is crucial to socio-economic development in the coming decades. In this context, one key point is to (re-)address various water problems in a more holistic way.

This study explores the emerging water crisis events in Beijing Municipality so as to have a better understanding of water systems changes and to make more sustainable water-related decisions. The changes of water quantity and water quality in the region are analyzed in a systems perspective; and opportunities towards improved performance of Beijing’s water systems are discussed. In order to aid in water systems analysis, a conceptual framework is developed, with a focus on identifying the most important interactions of the urban water sector.

The results of the study show that the emerging water crisis events in the Beijing region are caused by a variety of inter-related factors, both external and internal. The external factor is mainly the decreasing upstream surface water inflow into the Guanting and Miyun reservoirs. The internal factors include precipitation variation, excessive water withdrawals, increasing water demands for different purposes and a large amount of pollutants discharged to the receiving water bodies. These factors together have caused tremendous water systems changes in Beijing Municipality from both the water quantity and water quality perspectives.

In order to alleviate the serious water situation in Beijing Municipality, many further efforts are required in the dynamic socioeconomic and ecological context. Although tremendous work has been carried out by water-related institutions to prevent flood and ensure water supply, water resources development, planning and management must be addressed employing systems thinking and in a more holistic way. This is crucial for balancing the tradeoffs of water quantity and water quality in the Beijing region. Besides the experimental inter-basin water transfer activities, water demand management and pollution reduction and prevention should be the top priority on the agenda of the Beijing government in the long term. Moreover, only at a river basin level may various upstream-downstream conflicts be alleviated by wiser water allocation among administrative regions, as well as taking the ecological water demand into consideration.

Finally, considering the current water situation and water management system, the following three aspects of improvement are emphasized in the present study, including a promoted water centric value, institutional capacity building and employing economic principles for water resources management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 51 p.
Trita-IM, ISSN 1402-7615 ; 2011:15
Keyword [en]
Beijing, Sustainability, Systems thinking, Urban water, Water quality, Water quantity
National Category
Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-107780OAI: diva2:578116
Subject / course
Industrial Ecology
Educational program
Master of Science - Sustainable Technology
2011-05-09, Conference Room at Industrial Ecology, Teknikringen 34, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2013-02-19 Created: 2012-12-17 Last updated: 2013-02-22Bibliographically approved

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