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Speech at the Sub-forum on Water Storage Facilities of the 5th World Water Forum
  2009-07-14 09:24  

Speech at the Sub-forum on Water Storage Facilities of the 5th World Water Forum

By H. E. CHEN Lei
 Minister of Water Resources, P. R. China
March 20, 2009

Water is regarded as basic natural resources and economic resources of strategic importance and also key control element of ecological environment. It has become a necessity of building reservoir or other water storage facilities and storing water for appropriate use, which is also the solution for water development and utilization as well as prevention of water disasters. The 5th World Water Forum includes a sub-forum on water storage facilities,where related topics will be probed and discussed. This is of great significance for boosting international exchanges and cooperation in this field. I am delighted to attend this sub-forum to exchange ideas with all counterparts presented here on the subject of construction and development of water storage facilities in China.

Influenced by monsoon climate, precipitation is unevenly distributed in time and space in China, for water resources are abundant in the South and the East, but scarce in the North and the West. Rainfall in most regions mainly occurs during the flood season between June and September. Precipitation of the wet year may be 2 to 8 times of the dry year. Consecutive wet or dry years appear frequently. Such special situation makes the construction and utilization of water storage facilities of great significance in China.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially since the reform and opening up of China, under the condition of highlighting water conservation and ecological protection, the Chinese Government has constructed a number of large, medium and small-sized water storage facilities for flood control, irrigation, water supply and electricity generation. The capacity of water resources regulation has been greatly enhanced.

In order to ease flood threat along major rivers and improve water facilities for safeguarding socioeconomic development, we have built a series of key projects of critical importance to the national economy and the people’s livelihood,such as the Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River and the Xiaolangdi on the Yellow River, which are fully operated and generate multi-benefits.

In order to protect people’s lives and properties and meet the water demand for economic and social development, about 85,400 reservoirs of various kinds are built with total storage capacity of 634.5 billion cubic meters, and actual annual supply of 659.1 billion cubic meters. Besides, risk removal and dam reinforcement have been completed on 3733 dangerous reservoirs.

In order to ensure water supply in dry and water-scarce areas, many small and mini-sized rainwater collection projects have been constructed. At present, there are 4.2 million drinking water storage facilities nationwide including pools, water cellars, small reservoirs, etc. There are also 7 million water storage facilities for agricultural irrigation. The problem of drinking water supply for 22 million people has been solved through rain collection and utilization, and irrigated farmland extends 2.87 million hectare.

In order to ensure energy supply, and improve the energy structure and ecological environment, we have built up a large number of hydropower stations with total installed capacity reaching 145,000 MW, ranking the first in the world, in which installed capacity in rural areas reaches 59,690 MW.  These hydropower stations enable over 300 million people access to electricity.

Thanks to these storage facilities and scientific water regulation, we have successfully fought against a large number of floods and droughts. With about 6% of the world’s freshwater resources and 9% of its farmland, China has succeeded in feeding a population that makes up 21% of the world's total while ensuring its economic development.  Furthermore, China is advancing towards the grand ambition of constructing an all-round well-off society.

At present and for certain years to come, China is and will be at an important stage of building an all-round well-off society and accelerating modernization. As such, socioeconomic development proposes a higher demand on the safety in the aspects of flood control, water and energy supply. Despite its progress in the construction of water storage facilities, China still needs to improve its weak water infrastructures, while integrated water resources management still lags far behind the needs of economic and social development. In face with intensifying global warming, the situation of water resources is becoming increasingly more complicated; extreme climate events occur frequently; distribution of water resources is uneven temporally and spatially, and water and soil resources do not match the allocation of productive forces. Therefore development of water conservancy by constructing water storage and other facilities remains a major and urgent task for China.

To this end, we will focus on the following aspects:

First, speed up the reinforcement of hazard reservoirs. The goal is to remove dangers and strengthen large, medium-sized and key small hazard reservoirs by the end of 2010. Furthermore, reinforcement of large and medium-sized risky culvers and gates will be initiated and reinforcement of small hazard reservoirs will be speeded up to ensure safe operation and efficiency of existing reservoirs.

Second, promote the construction of major water conservancy projects. Efforts should be placed on constructing a group of key water projects and headwater works. The purpose is to further enhance the capacity of water resources allocation and control, and ensure reliable water supply for economic and social development.

Third, strengthen construction of medium, small and mini-sized water storage facilities. In line with local conditions, it is planed to build waterworks of storage, diversion, lifting and rainwater collection and utilization, and projects of seepage prevention, reinforcement, dredging and capacity expansion of existed waterworks. In this way, the capacity of water storage and supply in drought-prone and water deficiency areas shall be enhanced.

Fourth, develop hydropower in a rational way. With ecological protection as the priority, large-scale water and hydropower development projects should be constructed in a proper manner; small hydropower development and rural township electrification should be highlighted. It is planed to increase total installed capacity of hydropower to 300 million kW in 2020, which shall safeguard energy supply and improve ecological environment.

During the construction of water storage facilities, we should continue to adhere to the national policy of resource conservation and environmental protection, hold on to the philosophy of putting people at the center and harmonious coexistence between man and nature. Transformation from traditional approach to modernized or sustainable water development via rational development, efficient utilization, comprehensive control, optimum distribution, comprehensive conservation, effective protection and scientific management of water resources should be highlighted.

First, pay more attention to water conservation and protection. We should insist on a water consumption pattern that prioritizes water saving, pollution control and reasonable development. A most vigorous water management system will be implemented and water demand management will be enhanced, so as to build a water-saving and pollution-controlling society, and develop an industrial structure, a growth mode and a consumption pattern that favor water conservation and pollution control.

Second, attach great attention to ecological and environmental protection. From project planning, designing, construction, operation to management, ecological protection of rivers should be taken into full account. It is necessary to meet not only the reasonable water demands for economic and social development, but also the basic needs for safeguarding health of rivers and lakes. Great efforts should be exerted to promote ecological civilization.

Third, focus on safeguarding legitimate interests of the public in general and reservoir resettlement in particular. The policy of development-oriented resettlement shall be implemented, by means of early-stage compensation and subsidy with later-stage support and assistance. The policies for reservoir resettlement and later-stage support should be effectively executed, so as to realize sustainable socioeconomic development of the reservoir areas and the resettlement region.

Fourth, pay more attention to project development and management. We should enhance supervision over project quality and safety, develop  concepts and measures for management innovation, deepen management restructuring, and improve mechanisms for operation, management and protection so that the constructed projects will enjoy good management and long-term benefits.

Fifth, take the coordination of large, middle, small and mini projects into full consideration. It is necessary to enhance not only the construction of key water projects and headwater projects, but also the development of small and mini-sized water storage facilities such as rainwater collection works, small reservoirs and rural hydropower stations. Promoting the coordination of large, middle, small and mini-sized water conservancy projects will maximize overall benefits of water conservancy projects.

Sixth, focus on technological innovation and application. We should focus on studies and key technology development of water storage facilities, widely extension of advanced water storage technologies, materials and equipment, and constantly upgrade technical levels of water storage facilities.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Construction of water storage facilities and rational regulation of water resource are closely related to sustainable development. The Chinese Government sincerely hopes that we will strengthen exchanges and cooperation and share successful experiences with other countries in the field of water storage, meet challenges, and ensure sustainable socioeconomic development on the basis of sustainable utilization of water resources.

Finally, I would like to wish the sub-forum a great success!