Planet China

A wee deterrent

China’s water shortages are well known, with scarcity normally assumed to be greatest in major northern cities such as Beijing. But Weifang in Shandong province clearly has a water problem of its own too. The city is struggling to stop residents stealing water from radiators in public housing projects. This became apparent earlier this month when a blogger posted a message from local utility provider Weifang Anqiu Shengyuan Thermal Power Corporation. It pointed out that – due to water being stolen from heating systems – the utility firm was adding urine to the stuff being piped into the system. Qilu Evening News called up the firm to discover whether this was a hoax, but was told by a staff member that it was true. The company was losing money from water theft, he said, as residents stole from central heating pipes to save money on their own water bills. The staffer said it wasn’t easy to steal the water, but that thieves have shown surprising “patience” for an activity that saves them a few yuan a month. That’s why the company decided to lace the water with urine, the staffer said. In case you are wondering, the utility buys the urine for Rmb10 ($1.65) per vat.

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