China has planned to turn itself into a water-efficient society in 15 years to realize nil growth in water consumption for social and economic development by 2020.
The objective was just announced by Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng at a high-level symposium on the utilization of water resources in China.
By 2010, Wang said, a comprehensive mechanism including laws, administrative regulations, economic and technical policies related to the development of water-efficient society would be fundamentally established. Awareness of water-efficiency of the Chinese would be substantially improved, he said.
Calling the next 15 years "a crucial period" for the national objective, Wang said that the annual water consumption per unit of gross domestic product will decline more than six percent by 2010 while the annual growth rate for industrial water consumption should be controlled within one percent.
Meanwhile, China will strive to realize a nil growth in water consumption for agricultural irrigation and uplift the efficiency of water consumption for service industry to a world leading level by 2010, he said.
To realize the goal, the Ministry of Water Resources has started to upgrade its management system based on the theories of water rights and water market. A special quota system will be set up to clarify the water rights of different regions and sectors. The macroregulation departments will also have to learn to make better use of water prices to improve water efficiency, Wang said.
Official statistics revealed that more than 100 water-efficient pilot projects have been set up since 1998. So far, approximately 600 counties have been bestowed the title of "water efficient counties" where more than 30 billion cubic meters of water has been saved annually.