China Water Shortages

23 MARCH 2001

BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Top Chinese lawmaker Li Peng said Thursday China should give top priority to water saving, while increasing the water supply through developing new water resources in a bid to ease water shortages.
Li Peng, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), said China will strive to build itself into a water-saving nation, calling for more efforts to protect water resources through an improved legal system.
Speaking Thursday at a forum marking the world's Water Day and China's 14th Water Week, Li urged all communities in China to improve their awareness of existing concerns over water.
He described water as a lifeline of human existence and economic and social development.
Per capita water resources in China total 2,200 cubic meters, about one quarter of the world's average, he said, adding the figure will decrease to 1,760 cubic meters per capita by 2030 when China's population peaks to 1.6 billion.
Li said there is a great potential for water saving in China.
On China's proposed plans for diverting fresh water from the Yangtze River to northern China through three different routes, he stressed the need for water saving.
The total amount of water to be diverted during the first and second stage of the project will be 50 billion cubic meters each year, only about one quarter of the anticipated increased amount of demand, he said.
"So at present and in the long run, water saving should be placed on top agenda," said the chairman.
China's irrigation efficiency is only at half the level of the world's developed countries, and China's water consumption for 10, 000 yuan worth of industrial products is 91 cubic meters, about five to 10 times more than that of the developed countries, said Li.
He called on more efforts to be made to improve water management systems with increases of water prices and levies on water resources accordingly and reasonably.