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China to strengthen water control in light of shortage
Updated: 2009-02-15 11:06

GUILIN -- China will tighten water resources management and take measures to reduce waste to cope with worsening water shortage, Water Resources Minister Chen Lei said Saturday.

A pond has dried up due to the lack of rainfall for months in Tangyin county, Central China's Henan province, February 2, 2009. The provincial meteorological agency issued a red alarm for drought last month and local drought relief agencies have mobilized money, people and equipment to help fight the severe situation. [CFP] More photos 

Water shortage impelled us take into consideration of overall economic and social development and economical use of water resources to ensure sustainable economic and social development, Chen said at a national conference in Guilin, in southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

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China is planning to reduce water consumption per unit of GDP to 125 cubic meters by 2020, down 60 percent from now, Chen said.

Water consumption averaged 229 cubic meters per 10,000 yuan worth of products, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) at the end of 2008. That figure was down 10 percent compared with the previous year.

Statistics released Saturday showed the country lacked 40 billion cubic meters of water every year, with almost two thirds of cities suffering various levels of water shortages.

More than 200 million rural people face drinking water shortages.

At the same time, farmland stricken by drought reached 230 million mu (15.3 million hectares) every year, nearly 13 percent of the total farming area.

The most severe drought in half a century, which is hitting China this spring, affected 111 million mu of crops so far, with 4.68 million people and 2.49 million livestock threatened by water shortages, according to official statistics from the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

"We must take strict measures to preserve water resources in the face of the severe lack of water worsened by factors such as overuse, pollution and drought ," Chen said.

The ministry also expected to increase 79.5 billion cubic meters of water resources by 2020 and secure water supplies for both urban and rural people.

Chen proposed reinforcement of laws and regulations on water allocation, consumption and preservation as a fundamental way to achieve this goal.