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Water plan to take effect by 2012

By Wu Wencong (China Daily)

08:08, June 11, 2012

By the end of 2012, a water resource allocation plan for 25 rivers that flow through more than one province will be put into use, limiting the amount of water that can be taken from the rivers by each of the provinces.

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

The water resource allocation plan is one of the moves the ministry has taken to promote the implementation of the most stringent regulations in Chinese water resource management.

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.

The regulation also asks the entire country to limit the scale of water exploitation, improve the efficiency of water usage and curb water pollution.

"There are no other countries that have set such detailed targets to restrict their own development by limiting usage of water resources," Chen said.

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.

Chen said the first target in the regulation - the figure of 700 billion cu m annual total water consumption - was calculated after considering the necessary amount needed for development, the exploitable amount that the environment can afford and the principle of a properly tightened budget. The current figure is about 600 billion cu m.

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