Long-term China water plan will strictly limit provincial usage

June 11, 2012
An ancient Chinese waterway

By the end of 2012, a water resource allocation plan for 25 rivers that flow through more than one of China’s provinces will come into play, in effect controlling the amount of water that can be taken from the rivers by each of the provinces.

The water resource allocation plan is one of the moves China’s Ministry of Water Resources has taken to promote the implementation of the most stringent regulations in Chinese water resource management.

 "We are doing our best to accelerate the process," said Chen Ming, deputy head of the Water Resources Department at the ministry. "Hopefully, the plan will come out by August."

Announced in January by the State Council, the regulation set four "must-complete" targets by 2030, including limiting the country's annual total water consumption to less than 700 billion cubic meters.

China's average per capita water capacity is 2,100 cu m, only 28 percent of the world's per capita level. The annual average water shortfall is 50 billion cu m, according to the ministry.

In contrast with the severe water shortage, the efficiency of water usage is far below the world's leading level.

"If we don't change the way we use water resources, by 2030 the country's average per capita water capacity will be only 1,730 cu m," said Chen.

Anything below 1,700 cu m is deemed as "falling short with water", according to the standard set by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

According to international common practices, the exploitable water resources of a country must be less than 40 percent of its total water resources, otherwise the ecosystem will be largely damaged.