Environmental impact puts strain on one of nation's vital resources
BEIJING - The impact of climate change on water resources has become a growing concern for the country's water sector, a top official said on Friday.
Chen Lei, minister of water resources, told a roundtable meeting on climate change in China that global warming has become an important environmental issue - with water being one of the sectors most directly affected.
"China faces an imbalance between the supply and demand of water to support its rapid social and economic development, while protecting the natural environment and ecosystems," said Chen.
"Global climate change could further exacerbate existing problems over water security, water supply and farming irrigation."
China experiences a water shortage of 40 billion cubic meters a year, with two-thirds of cities facing increasing scarcity of water, said Chen.
China's per capita water resources are only 28 percent of the global average, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Khalid Mohtadullah, a senior adviser of Global Water Partnership, a worldwide organization focusing on the integrated management of water resources for sustainability, said one of the worst issues facing China today is water pollution, as China has become the world's second largest economy with rapid economic growth, and many industries have not found a proper way to manage waste water.
"China is vulnerable to the impacts of uncontrollable climate change as its water infrastructure is weak or unprepared for such changes," he said. "Policymakers need better information about the regional impact of climate change on water supplies, and on ways of adapting to it, otherwise it will have a negative effect on China's economy and could lead to a reduction in economic growth."
However, Chen said sustainable water management - making limited water supplies meet the demands of social economic development and preserving ecosystems - will help tackle the challenges of uncontrollable climate change and consequent drought, floods and water scarcity.
"Actually, the Chinese government is stepping up the efforts in water resources management by enhancing the water supply capacity for urban and rural areas, flood prevention systems and the construction of farming infrastructure."
The Chinese government is set to invest 4 trillion yuan ($612 billion) in water conservancy projects over the next 10 years.
It has also established strict water resource management measures to limit the scale of water exploitation, improve the efficiency of water usage, and curb water pollution.