Shanghai’s New Qingcaosha Reservoir to Open this December

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SHANGHAI, Oct. 12 – Shanghai has invested RMB17 billion (US$2.53 billion) into building a new water reservoir in an effort to improve its water infrastructure while combating water shortages and quality problems.

The Qingcaosha Reservoir will open on a trial basis this coming December and, when fully operational, will provide 10 million people in the city with drinkable tap water. At 70 square kilometers, the reservoir is 10 times larger than the West Lake in Hangzhou.

Apart from increasing the total supply of tap water, it also aims to improve its quality. Currently, Shanghai’s water supply is only at the third highest level, which means it is suitable for drinking, but also can function as a sanctuary for common species of fish or as a swimming zone. After it has been treated, water from the Qingcaoshao Reservoir will be at the second highest level, which means it will also be suitable for rare species of fish and will have a higher level of protection compared to the third grade.

The reservoir also aims to diversify Shanghai’s water supply. Currently, 80 percent of the city’s tap water comes from the Huangpu River, but once the reservoir is fully functional, 50 percent of the tap water will stem from the Yangtze River.

This project reflects the continuing effort to improve Shanghai’s water supply and infrastructure. Between 2006 and 2008, an additional 819 kilometers of water pipelines were built, putting the total length of pipelines at 29,158 kilometers. At the same time, the number of residents with access to tap water has risen from 18.15 million people to 18.89 million people. Waste water disposal has also been a focus, with an additional 871 kilometers of sewage pipelines built, bringing the total to 8,301 kilometers. In the meantime, the expenditure for waste water treatment has risen from RMB15.2 billion to about RMB22.3 billion.

The World Wildlife Fund has released a statement warning that the reservoir might not be sufficient to guarantee a projected need of 14.28 million cubic meters by 2020, since it will be flooded by seawater over the next 15 years, thus counteracting any improvements made in the quality of drinking water.

However, Shanghai Chengtou Corporation, the company charged with building the Qingcaosha Reservoir, has said that the reservoir will permanently solve Shanghai’s water shortage problem.