Climate change mitigation and adaptation in Chinese Water Utilities

Due to the impact of global climate change and rapid urban development, the ability to mitigate flood hazards, cope with climate change, improve urban drainage flexibility and ensure water supply security has been extremely important for water enterprises. To mitigate climate change, water companies need to carry out internal carbon emissions accounting, formulate scientific carbon reduction development plans, actively develop green low-carbon technologies, reduce carbon emissions from the source, and achieve the goal of greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Adding to this, water industries have the obligation and responsibility to improve the public utilities’ awareness and attention to carbon emissions reduction and lead the industry towards a climate smart model.


Adapting to climate change

The Capital Eco-pro Group operates 93 water supply plants across the country with a daily water supply capacity of 10.28 million tons. Following the uncertainty brought about by climate change, the utility has formulated series of measures to adapt with the water pressure in their operation sites. One of such measures is the formulation of a diversified water resources utilisation strategy. Some activities implemented under this strategy include the establishment of sewage collection system, water reclamation systems, wetlands restoration, and nature-based solutions for groundwater replenishment. The Capital Eco-pro Group is committed to protecting their water sources in order to ensure high-quality and safe water sources. The use of reclaimed water, rainwater harvesting, and seawater desalination are examples of interventions adopted to diversify the water supply portfolio.

The Capital Eco-pro Group has also issued technical guidelines to reduce leakage. For instance, through the GIS management platform, pipe quality control, water balance calculation, and meter verification, the utility’s water loss dropped to 14.13%, a decline registered for five consecutive years. Through the adoption of natural and artificially constructed green infrastructure, Capital Eco-pro has also implemented 85 sponge transformation projects nationwide to control non-point source pollution and reduce water consumption. Guyuan City, in the Ningxia Province has benefitted from such projects where the use of a low-impact development construction strategy based on regional characteristics alleviated urban flood disasters and reduced runoff pollutants between 2016 and 2019.


Mitigation actions

To clarify the level of greenhouse gas emissions Capital Eco-pro Group organised and carried out an internal carbon inventory work for 3 consecutive years (2019-2021). The utility has independently developed a carbon footprint model for their wastewater treatment plant and a lifecycle environmental impact assessment model (CAPITAL-Carbon) based on the international IPCC framework and ECAM tools. With this being the first carbon footprint accounting model for wastewater treatment plants in China, it has greatly contributed to better accounting of carbon emissions in the country.

The utility has also explored and developed green and low-carbon technologies to reduce electricity and chemical consumption. Two of such technologies have received extensive attention in the Chinese industry. First is the research and development and engineering application of aerobic granular sludge (AGS) technology. The second is ASMART®, an intelligent decision-making platform based on biological model technology to replace traditional thermal power with clean energy such as wastewater source heat pump and photovoltaic energy. The Chengnan Sewage Plant in Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province, is an example where the utility has made use of water source heat pump to cool and heat the buildings in the plant area. Also, photovoltaic power generation has been applied in the Hefei Shiwulihe Sewage Treatment Plant in Anhui Province where the rooftop and outdoor space of the sewage treatment plant were used for solar photovoltaic panels.

Capital Eco-pro Group has been carrying out energy conservation and consumption reduction work for many years. The utility believes through the development of a series of digital products (energy efficiency management platform, intelligent aeration system, intelligent dosing system), it can achieve a refined management, save energy, and reduce carbon emissions.


Communication with citizens

As a leader in China’s environmental protection industry, Capital Eco-pro Group is not just committed to improving its climate adaptation and resilience, but also seeks to improve the public response by working together with local governments, suppliers, and other stakeholders to launch various activities aimed at conserving water and protecting water resources to raise awareness of the environmental impact of climate change. The utility also has set up an Environmental Protection Education Base in many water plants to actively advertise and promote the concept of water resources protection.

Capital Eco-pro Group also promotes a strong learning culture for its employees. Through the “Chuang Yun Book Garden” mobile App, the utility has trained more than 20,000 employees on the use of theoretical and practical skills.
The utility has taken part in various work activities around carbon peaking and neutralisation organised by government authorities and industry associations. Examples include the work on the compilation of the “Technical Guidelines for Carbon Accounting and Emission Reduction of Urban Water System” organised by the China Urban Water Supply and Drainage Association, and the participation in the “Sewage Treatment, Pollution Reduction and Carbon Reduction Synergy and Efficiency Action Plan” discussion organised by the National Development and Reform Commission.


Lessons learned

Capital Eco-pro Group has been deeply involved in the environmental protection industry for more than 20 years, providing comprehensive services for water supply, sewage, and watershed management in many Chinese cities, helping to protect water resources and improve urban environmental resilience.
Relying on the excellent operation management, digital water platform, carbon footprint accounting tools, innovative green low-carbon technologies, as well as promoting water conservation, environmental protection science education, we have helped many cities to cope with climate challenges, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and successfully transform into Climate Smart Water Utility.

For more information contact: Shuang Li

Submit your Utility Case Story

Feeling inspired by this story? Learn more about the IWA Climate Smart Utilities Initiative or contact us at

Shuang Li

Vice-President of the Research Institute of Capital Eco-pro Group
Shuang Li is Professor and Senior Engineer, Standing Committee member of Water Loss Specialist Group in the China Region, International Water Association, Secretary-General of Water Market Committee of China Water Association, Vice-President of the R... Read full biography