John Grill, chairman of Australian consulting giant WorleyParsons, this morning delivered a keynote speech on the Chinese water crisis and what the firm is doing in China.
Addressing the Australia China Business Forum, Grill neatly distilled the water crisis into three reasons. Here’s what he said:
First, [China’s] water resources are not evenly distributed. While China’s north and north-east regions are home to 40% of her population, they are the source of around only 5% of her water resources.
Second, with large scale urbanization and industrialization, China’s water demand is expected to reach a mammoth 818 billion cubic meters by 2030. Approximately 50% of demand will go to agriculture, 32% to industry – driven specifically by thermal power generation – and the remaining 18% for household use.
This situation is compounded by the fact that recycling is not widely used. As an example, China’s industry currently only recycles about 25% of its water compared to 85% in other developing countries.
Finally, pollution from industry and domestic wastewater has worsened water problems by making 21% of the country’s surface water unfit for agriculture.
The Chinese government has made water a top strategic priority for the nation, setting aside some 4 trillion RMB ($A691 billion) on water-related projects between 2011 and 2020.
WorleyParsons China employs about 2,800 people, and works on waste water projects including the Blue Star Xinghuo Chemical Project, the Shell Changbei CPF Project and the Oyu Tolgoi Mine Project.
Grill led WorleyParsons for more than 40 years before passing the CEO mantle to former CFO Andrew Wood last year.
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