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The problem of water management

Updated: 2013-03-05 07:55
By Cecilia Tortajada and Asit K. Biswas ( China Daily)

Despite its extraordinary economic growth in the past three decades, China has not made commensurate progress in planning and managing its water resources. Chinese policymakers appear to have made an implicit decision that it would be possible to resolve the country's environmental and resource-related problems only after its transition to an economic superpower.

But the breakneck growth, huge population and rising environmental awareness of the people, who are demanding a better quality of life, mean that China cannot continue on an unsustainable development path.

China's rapid economic growth has affected all sectors. Take groundwater for example. In 1972, the country drew about 20 cubic kilometer of groundwater. By 2010, it was drawing 112 cubic km a year, an increase of 560 percent in less than 40 years. And nearly 70 percent of North China's irrigated areas today depend on groundwater. This increasing exploitation of groundwater cannot continue because it is not sustainable.

The problem of water management

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