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Limited resources force north China to better allocate water

10-26-2011 08:48 BJT

HOHHOT, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Plots of farmland on the Hetao Plain in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region were soaked with water, almost to the point of being flooded. Local farmers said they were irrigating the land, expecting a greater harvest in the coming year.

Large-scale water-wasting is common on the plain, but will soon disappear under a new water resource management system.

"Water conservation should divert from being an agriculture-targeted service to becoming a comprehensive service for the region's industrialization and urbanization," said Bateer, chairman of the regional government.

Water supplies in the region have been rapidly deteriorating, with water shortages over the next decade expected to triple to 3 billion cubic meters, Bateer said.

According to Bateer, water used for agriculture accounts for 77 percent of the region's total consumption, 15 percent higher than the national average. The uneven distribution of water resources has also limited economic development in some areas, he said.

The region has spent 20.3 billion yuan (3.19 billion U.S. dollars) in the past five years to build water conservation infrastructure, allowing authorities to allocate water more evenly. New irrigation facilities have been installed on local farms to prevent water from being wasted.

Ma Xiaohe, deputy head of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said water-saving irrigation is vital, especially for regions around the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River.

"Water shortages are more serious than arable land shortages in China. Water conservation is extremely important," said Ma.

In January, China's central government issued a document listing water conservation as a priority task. The document said that China will invest 4 trillion yuan in the coming 10 years to build water conservation facilities.

Bateer said the region has encouraged companies to invest in water conservation and is planning to double its annual spending in the sector over the next decade.

In July, at a water conservation work conference held by the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), President Hu Jintao pledged to accelerate the development of water conservation facilities not only to guarantee grain safety, but also to restructure the company's economy.

In Inner Mongolia, an economic belt covering the cities of Hohhot, Baotou and Erdos is being built along the Yellow River to divert coal resources from other areas in the region to water-rich cities.

However, Ma warned that this method of distribution may lead to water pollution, adding that preventive measures should be put in place before pollution occurs.

"Existing pollution needs to be properly treated to prevent water from becoming polluted," he said.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: Xinhua

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