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China's first spring facing crisis
Latest Updated by 2007-04-16 09:32:03
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China's best-known scenic spring is in danger of drying up for good due to the over-exploitation of underground water supplies for industrial use, experts have warned.

Dating back 2,600 years, Baotu Spring, or the "First Spring Under Heaven", is located in downtown Jinan, the capital of East China's Shandong Province, and famed for the thunderous roars it makes as columns of water surge upward from its three outlets.

However, it was reported yesterday (Apr 12) that the spring's underground water level had fallen to 27.59 m, lower than the "worrying" level of 27.6 m and just 58 mm higher than the point at which it might stop flowing altogether.

For the spring to be able to generate steady gushes, the underground water level must be at least 28.5 m.

Experts have said that as the exploitation of the underground water is showing no signs of stopping, the situation is unlikely to improve before the May Day Golden Week, which starts on May 1.

The continuing dry weather might also be detrimental to the spring's flow, experts said.

In a bid to rekindle the spring's vitality, the Jinan municipal government recently ran a campaign to save water. As well as calling on locals to reduce their daily consumption, it carried out large-scale inspections of industrial plants in an effort to find ways to make them more water-efficient.

Shang Guangyu, an official with the Shandong Hydrology and Water Resources Survey Bureau, said: "The new water supply projects being developed in the eastern part of the city will help ease industrial demand for groundwater."

Baotu Spring is just one of more than 70 springs in Jinan that are at risk of stopping flowing. "Most of the groundwater is taken for industrial use, with firms in Jinan drawing a combined 400,000 cubic meters every day," Shang said.

Li Shixin, an expert on springs, said Jinan had been suffering from a drought since last autumn and that this had contributed to the lowering of the groundwater level.

He added that as Jinan was planning to introduce and agricultural irrigation system, the situation was likely to get worse.

In the 1930s, Jinan's springs flowed all year long. But due to drier weather conditions and the constant exploitation of underground sources, several of them dried up in the late 1990s. Baotu Spring stopped flowing for 926 days between 1999 and 2001.

Editor: Wing

By: Source: China Daily Website
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