Five out of ten major watersheds face shortage amid extreme demand
Observers warned that China still faces severe challenges to water quality and security, while the nation pledges that 2016 will be a key year to promote the strictest-ever management of water resources.
Addressing a recent forum on water resources in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, Xia Jun, professor at the Key Laboratory on the Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said China still faces relatively severe water pollution, the Nandu Daily reported Sunday.
Xia cited statistics from China's Ministry of Water Resources which said that some 11 percent of water in reservoirs, 70 percent of lakes used as water sources and 60 percent of underground water sources fail to meet standards in the country.
In the past 10 years, China has also had a high water pollution rate, with more than 1,700 cases each year, the report said.
China still faces a shortage of water, serious water pollution and the severe deterioration of water sources, Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times. "Unlike air pollution problems such as smog, water pollution is harder to notice or feel on a personal level," he said.
"A huge amount of polluted wastewater is directly discharged [into the environment], as the price of water is far lower than the price of recycling and disposing of wastewater, so people have no motivation to adopt new skills," Ma noted.
Xia added that five out of 10 major watershed regions in China have seen an inadequate water supply alongside huge demand.
The efficient use of water, including water conservation and water recycling, is also far from realized, Ma said, explaining that wastewater from many factories and farms is so polluted that it can hardly meet national standards.
The Ministry of Water Resources said that 2016 will be a key year to promote the strictest-ever management of the country's water resources, as two sets of regulations are expected to be made to better manage underground water exploitation and to help conserve water, China National Radio (CNR) reported.
During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), China will also build a system of technical standards for water conservation, which will help eliminate equipment and appliances that cannot meet water conservation standards, CNR reported.
In April 2015, China issued an action plan to improve the country's water quality over the next five years through measures such as limiting the volume of poor-quality underground water across the country to 15 percent and guaranteeing that 95 percent of drinking water in cities is safe for human consumption, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Xia also pointed out that global climate change can exacerbate the risks to water resources in China, where people have already suffered from a prominent threat of floods, which have struck over 60 percent of Chinese cities in the past three years.
"Decoupling economic development from an environmental footprint means realizing an increase in the economy without an increase in the cost to the environment," Ma said.