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Speech at the 3rd Academician Forum of Chinese Academy of Engineering on Hydraulic & Architecture Engineering
  2009-09-27 14:34  

Dear academicians, experts, guests, ladies and gentlemen,

In this golden autumn, as celebration for Memorizing the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China is approaching, the 3rd Academician Forum on Hydraulic & Architecture Engineering titled “2009 High-level Forum on Sustainable Water Resources Development”, jointly sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Ministry of Water Resources opens today.

More than 300 international and domestic academicians, experts, scholars and representatives of international organizations are gathered in the beautiful city of Wuhan. Centering on the theme of “ water resources and sustainable development”, academic communication are carried out; front-tier issues are discussed and experiences as well as achievements are shared, technologies and managerial policies are exchanged, which are beneficial for furthering international cooperation on water science and technology and encountering global water issues with joint efforts. On behalf of Ministry of Water Resources, P. R. China, I will take this opportunity to give my heartfelt congratulations to the opening of this forum and sincere welcome to all participants!

Water is basic natural resources and strategic economic resources as well. It is also one of the control elements of ecology and environment. Safeguarding social economic sustainable development by sustainable utilization of water resources is a common challenge and pressing task for all countries in the world.

Chinese Government always pays high attention to water resources issues. In the past 60 years since the foundation of new China, large-scale water project construction has been conducted under the leadership of the Chinese Government; splendid achievement has been obtained that has attracted worldwide attention.

The safeguarding capabilities of water infrastructure has been greatly improved and water development & reform has benefited millions and millions people. Especially in recent 30 years since the reform and opening up of China, we have sustained a fast economic growth, at a speed of three times of the world average, on the basis of consuming only 60% of the world’s average water resources; we extended nearly 120 million mu of effective irrigated farmland and increased almost 50% of food production with zero increase of water consumption in rural irrigation in successive 30 years.

Since the implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan, two indexes of energy saving and emission reduction per 10-Thousand Industrial Added Value Water Consumption and 10-Thousand GDP water consumption decreased by 30% and 20% respectively. Today, China feeds more than 21% world’s population and safeguards its economic development by a consumption of 6% fresh water resources and holding 9% of the total farmland in the world, and is stepping into the future for building a well-off society in an all-round way. This is the outstanding achievement and contribution of China to the whole world.

Currently and for a certain period of time in the future, China will exert great efforts on establishing a well-off society in an all-round way and promote socialism modernization. During this vital period, we shall realize a transformation in water management from traditional approach to a modernized and sustainable one. However, profound water problems such as water shortage with large population, unevenly distribution of water in time and space with unmatched production layout are not only issues faced by us at present, but also challenges in the long-term.

The per capita water availability of China is only 1/3 of the world average. Rainfalls are concentrated in four months in most parts of the country, which accounts for 70% of the annual precipitation. The per capita water availability in the river basins of Huang (Yellow River), Huai and Hai only amounts to 1/3, 1/5 and 1/3 of nation’s average respectively; most parts in the north of China are facing water shortage problem. Especially under the new situation of increasingly influence laid by global climate change and faster speed of industrialization and urbanization, water conditions in China are experiencing new changes.

According to recent evaluation of water resources, it shows that, comparing the hydrological series of 1956-1979 and 1980-2000, the average precipitation in the river basin of Huang, Huai, Hai and Liao decreases by 6%; the average surface water decreased by 17%, especially in Huai River Basin, such number is 41%. Uneven water distribution, such as less water in the north and more water in the south, has intensified the conflicts between supply and demand.

At present, the total amount of water shortage has reached 40 billion m3; nearly 2/3 cities are facing water shortage problem; the affected farmland by drought reaches to 230 million mu annually. Meanwhile, the traditional approach of extensive water development has not been corrected; the GDP output per m3 of water is only 1/3 of the world average. In addition, water problems such as waste of water, water pollution, groundwater over-abstraction, dry up of rivers and wetland degradation also exist.

China national condition and water condition determine that we must follow the guidance of scientific outlook for development, insist on the basic policy of resource-saving and environment protection, stick to the concept of putting people at the center and harmony of people and nature, make rational development of water, encourage high-efficient utilization, conduct integrated approach, optimize water allocation, water conservation and effective protection and scientific management, and sustain economic and social development by sustainable utilization of water resources.

On the one hand, we should develop water resources in an appropriate manner, concentrate on construction of a series key projects of water sources and water allocation, build a group of medium and small storage and water lifting facilities in accordance with local conditions, upgrade capacity of water distribution and regulation, so as to safeguard water supply for economic and social development.

On the other hand, we should integrate economic and social development with water conservation, water environment improvement and ecological restoration; implement most strict water resources management system, build water-conserving society, and promote harmony of economic and social development with the bearing capacity of water and environment.

At the time of accelerating construction of basic water infrastructures, we should implement most strict water resources management system, make effort on promoting water resources management from supply-based to demand based, from over-exploration and chaos to a rational and ordered development, from intensive utilization to high-efficient utilization, from post-action to pre-action, apply various means of structural, technical, administrative and legal, to solve water problems effectively and ensure sustainable utilization of water resources.

To implement the most strict water management system, the core is to definite three redlines: the redline of water development and utilization to control total quantity of water utilization; the redline of improving water efficiency to discourage waste of water; the redline of pollutant carrying capacity in water function zones to strictly control the total quantity of pollution discharge.

By the year of 2015, the total water consumption of the whole country shall be limited to below 600 billion m3. The water use per 10,000 Yuan industrial added value shall be 30% lower than the current level. Coefficient of irrigated water use shall increase to above 0.52. Up-to-standard water quality of functions zones in major rivers and lakes enhances to above 60%.

Till 2020, a complete water resources management and supervision system shall be set up; water resources shall be properly distributed; the layout of water-conserving society is formed; water use efficiency and benefit are increased; water quality of drinking water sources and ecological conditions of key regions shall be greatly improved; over-exploration of groundwater shall be effectively controlled; water supply capacity for economic and social development should be greatly enhanced.

In order to meet the objectives listed above, we shall engage in the following key tasks.

Firstly, rational allocation of water resources by means of control of total water use. We should speed up the formulation of water allocation plans in river basins and regions; establish an index system for the overall control of water abstraction by issuing licenses at the level of river basins, provinces, municipalities and counties; strengthen water resources assessment during planning and project construction, to take full consideration of water conditions in the preparation of economic and social development planning, as well as city master plan and outline of development zone and industrial park. Water abstraction must be strictly controlled; integrated water resources management should be implemented for securing needs of domestic, industrial and ecological water use.

Secondly, water conserving society shall be highlighted with the objectives of improving water use efficiency and effectiveness. We should establish the content of merit system including local and industrial water use efficiency, unit product water consumption quota, as well as mandatory standard of water use of product and equipment; promote technical extension of water saving products and rehabilitation; highlight simultaneous design-construction-operation of water conservation scheme in project construction. We should carry out reform for water right system and pricing system, develop water-conserving industry, agriculture, service industry and water industry, to accelerate development of unconventional means of water utilization, such as seawater, blackish water, recycled water, mine water and rainfall etc.

Thirdly, reinforce water resources protection based on water functional zoning. We should strengthen monitoring and supervision of drinking water sources; take comprehensive measures for protecting important drinkable water sources and safeguard drinking water safety for the public. We should complete rapid response mechanism for water pollution accident, and strictly monitor sewage outlets to the rivers. We should optimize water allocation and sustain the flow of rivers and water level of lakes, reservoirs and aquifer, maintain health of rivers and ecosystem. We should strict management of groundwater exploitation and consumption, put on limit on total use of groundwater, and issue ban and quota for groundwater exploitation in over-abstraction areas, for restoration of environment and ecosystem step by step.   

Fourthly, continue water management system reform by centering on integrated water resources management. We should further improve the water resources management system by combining river basin based management with administrative management, intensify integrated water resources planning, allocation and dispatching in river basins and integrated management of relevant departments in water administration. We should integrate water affairs management of urban and rural areas, to realize “managing water by one organization and combining joint effort”; and gradually form a favorable operating mechanism of water affairs that led by government, with all sources of funds and market operation and business-oriented development. 

Fifthly, regulate water related activities in accordance with laws and regulations. We should perfect water legislation system, and complete water management regulations in line with national and water conditions in China; intensify law enforcement by focusing on investigations on issue of licenses, collection and utilization of water resources fees, water conservation administration and approval system of pollution discharge into rivers. We will strict persecution of illegal water abstraction and violent activities.

Sixthly, enhance capacity of water resources management supported by science and technology advancement. We should upgrade our level and capacity in water resources management. Research and development and new technology application should be promoted in the subjects of global climate change, sustainable water resources utilization for economical and social development and ecosystem protection. We need also speed up construction of water monitoring and control system that works closely with the approaches of control of total water consumption, water function zoning and water sources protection, so as to promote informatization and modernization of water resources management.

Ladies and gentlemen, since the first academician forum successfully held in 2005, great achievements have been made as it builds a platform for academicians, experts and scholars both at home and aboard, to discuss hot-topic and frontier issues on hydraulic engineering. I hope, in this forum, academicians, experts, scholars and representatives of related organizations speak out freely, exchange ideas and hold fruitful discussions, reach common understanding and foster new cooperation. It is our sincere hope to strengthen exchange and cooperation with all countries in the world, share best practice of water management and meet the challenges with join hands, to ensure sustainable development of economy and society by sustainable utilization of water resources.

Finally, I wish the forum a complete success. Thank You!