China steps up water management


As the French prime minister, François Fillon, called for urgent action at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseilles, the Chinese government announced stringent measures and new water targets to try to alleviate China’s water crisis.  

China is one of the world’s most water stressed countries with low per capita availability exacerbated by poor distribution and severe pollution.  Now the government is setting caps for water use to improve agricultural and industrial water efficiency.  It also plans to restrict ground-water extraction and step up the penalties for misuse under a new water management decree.

The measures, issued by the State Council, reflect the gravity of China’s water crisis and aim to correct the failures of governance and the poor regulation that has allowed wastage and pollution to flourish.  China’s Vice Minister of Water Resources, Hu Siyi acknowledged that China was rapidly depleting its limited resources and  thaat, without more effective protection, human survival was at stake.

The new regulations set a target for 2030 of restricting pollution to achieve usability of  95% of water in China’s rivers and lakes.  At present, pollution if so severe that much of China’s surface water is Grade V , which means that it cannot be used for any purpose at all.  

To achieve this ambitious target, China will have to improve its inspection and penalty regimes for industry and agriculture, currently a major weak point of water management in China.  Despite its efforts in the past, the government has missed previous targets for improving water quality and efficiency.

Image courtesy of Omar A.