Evaluating Beijing’s Human Carrying Capacity from the Perspective of Water Resource Constraints


Zhang, Yingxuan; Chen, Min; Zhou, Wenhua; Zhuang, Changwei; Ouyang, Zhiyun

Journal or Book Title: Journal of Environmental Sciences

Keywords: urban population carrying capacity; regional water resources; sustainable urban development; water resource management

Volume/Issue: 22/8

Page Number(s): 1297-1304

Year Published: 2010


As the demands on limited water resources intensify, concerns are being raised about the human carrying capacity of these resources. However, few researchers have studied the carrying capacity of regional water resources. Beijing, the second-largest city in China, faces a critical water shortage that will limit the city’s future development. We developed a method to quantify the carrying capacity of Beijing’s water resources by considering water-use structures based on the proportions of water used for agricultural, industrial, and
domestic purposes. We defined a reference structure as 45:22:33 (% of total, respectively), an optimized structure as 40:20:40, and an ideal structure as 50:15:35. We also considered four domestic water quotas: 55, 75, 95, and 115 m3/(person·yr). The urban carrying capacity of 10–12 million was closest to Beijing’s actual 2003 population for all three water-use structures with urban domestic water use of 75 m3/(person·yr). However, after accounting for our underlying assumptions, the adjusted carrying capacity is closer to 5–6
million. Thus, Beijing’s population in 2003 was almost twice the adjusted carrying capacity. Based on this result, we discussed the ecological and environmental problems created by Beijing’s excessive population and propose measures to mitigate these problems.

DOI: 10.1016/S1001-0742(09)60253-9

Type of Publication: Journal Article