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'Sponge city' program to harvest precious rainwater

    Shanghai is building a rainwater harvesting system which is already put to use in Pudong in the green belt along the Huangpu River.

    The system will store rainwater during the raining season and use the water to irrigate parks and gardens in dry weather. Rain filters through greenery on the ground and minerals in an underground pit in a natural purification process.

    Rain storage pits save precious land and can reduce flash floods. A 140-cubic-meter pit is enough to irrigate 1 hectare of greenery, according to officials.

    China consumes over 600 billion cubic meters of water a year but recycled water represents only 1 percent of the total. Rainwater run-off is one of the pollution sources for rivers and lakes.

    Every year, Shanghai has approximately 2.4 billion cubic meters of rainfalls, equivalent to 10 billion yuan (US$1.45 billion) of tap water, experts said.