China to increase investment in water conservation projects
China will continue to increase its investment in water conservation infrastructure construction and accelerate its pace of building water conservation projects, a senior official said Wednesday.
China had invested nearly 260 billion yuan (40.63 billion U.S. dollars) in water conservation infrastructure construction by the end of September, with the central government's investment reaching 113.9 billion yuan, Jiao Yong, vice minister of water resources, said at a press conference.
The investment has been used to improve the availability of safe drinking water for 63.5 million rural residents, teachers and students, reinforce 6,595 dangerous reservoirs, harness 800 rivers and build early warning systems for flooding in 1,100 counties, Jiao said.
Despite severe flooding this year, the country reported no breaches of major rivers and tributaries and no bursts in mid- to large-sized reservoirs, Jiao said.
China aims to harness more than 5,000 rivers over the next five years, reinforce 5,400 reservoirs and speed up the construction of early warning systems for flooding and storm tides.
The country will also work to ensure safe drinking water for residents, renovate key irrigation facilities, prevent and control land soil erosion, and restore the ecosystems of some environmentally-deteriorated regions over the next five years, Jiao said.
Efforts will be intensified to promote water conservation as well as the sustainable use of the precious resource, he said.
The government has been paying increasing attention to water conservation, as flooding and drought in recent years have exposed its weaknesses in the field.
The country said in this year's No. 1 document that up to 10 percent of local land transaction fees should go to farmland irrigation projects.
China also aims to double its average annual spending on water conservation to reach 4 trillion yuan over the next decade.
When asked how the government will spend the massive investment, Zhou Xuewen, chief planner of the Ministry of Water Resources, said that 20 percent will be used for the construction of farmland irrigation projects.
"Thirty-eight percent will be spent on flood control and disaster reduction programs, 35 percent will be invested in water-supply projects and the rest of the money will be used for water and soil conservation projects as well as ecological construction," he said, adding that the country welcomes foreign investment in all the projects.
When asked whether the country can provide sufficient water supplies for its people and economic development, Jiao said that the country's usable water resources total 814 billion cubic meters, and its current water supply stands at 600 billion cubic meters, leaving the country with over 200 billion cubic meters in potential water resources.
However, Jiao called for the sustainable use of water due to the uneven distribution of water resources and the country's increasing demand caused by the acceleration of urbanization and industrialization.
When asked if the government plans to divert water from the Brahmaputra River to ease its water shortages, Jiao said the country has no such plans,considering technical difficulties, environmental impacts and state relations.
The river is a transnational river which originates in southwestern Tibet Autonomous Region. Every year, 166.1 billion cubic meters of water from the river flow into other countries.
Jiao added that the Three Gorges Dam has played a crucial role in preventing flooding, shipping and power generation.