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China Gets Creative in Resource Conservation

The toilets of China's famous brewery city Qingdao will be...

The toilets of China's famous brewery city Qingdao will be the first in the country to flush with seawater. Residents living in the Nanjiang Development area, in the coastal city of Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, will only pay 0.5 yuan (6 US cents) per ton of processed seawater, or about one eighth the average price of tap water in major Chinese cities.

The government has authorized building the seawater flushing facilities for the Nanjing Development, and the site for a pumping installation has been selected, according to officials in charge of the project. Qingdao consumes about 60,000 cubic meters of water a day for toilet flushing while the city keeps struggling with a shortage of freshwater.

The project has become feasible since technological breakthroughs have been made in seawater purification, disinfection and biochemical treatment, and specified standards for water quality and draining, according to the officials. It is still a common practice across China to use freshwater to flush the toilets, which accounts for 30 to 35 percent of the total volume of water for domestic purposes.

China's per capita freshwater resources are one quarter of the world's average. Nearly 400 of China's 600-plus cities are short of water, particularly in the more densely populated coastal areas.