Saving water has become the key to ease the serious water shortage in China, said an official with the Ministry of Water Resources in Beijing Thursday.
As the whole world is devoted to the water issue in the 21st century, China, as a country with a huge population, faces heavier pressures in the field. The average water resources per capita in China is less than 2,200 cubic meters, only a quarter of the world average.
"China suffers a medium-level water shortage and the way to solve the problem is to build a water-thrift society," said Wu Jisong, official with the Ministry of Water Resources at a water forum that closed Thursday.
China's water resources could not satisfy the demand. Lack of proper administration over water saving is the main problem, said Wu. He said the nation should have a stronger sense of water saving. Besides, the government should adjust industrial structures and save water by adjusting the price of water.
At present, about two thirds of over 600 cities in China suffer water shortage, and the water supply situation in one sixth is very serious.
If no proper administrative measures are taken, the average water resources per capita in China would drop to 1,700 cubic meters by the middle of the next century when the population in China possibly rises to 1.6 billion.
To build a water-saving society requires innovation and establishment of a corresponding system, said Wu.
Most farmland in China is irrigated in the traditional way which causes great waste of water as a large amount of water leaks into the soil when flowing into the land. Only forty percent of the water could be finally used in irrigating the farmland and the percentage is less than half of the level in developed countries.
As China is backward in equipment and technology of water use, the cost of water for industrial output worth 10,000 yuan (US$1,209) is 103 cubic meters. The cost is merely eight cubic meters in the United States and six in Japan.
Only 55 percent of the water used in industrial production can be recycled, much less than the percentage in developed countries, about 75-85 percent.
Besides, the waste of water in daily life is also very serious in urban areas. Statistics show the water lost by leaking reached 360,000 tons every year in Beijing.
It is very important to have a correct idea of water use and a scientific system to save water, said Wu.
In 2002, the Ministry of Water Resources launched a pilot project in three cities suffering serious water shortage to build a water-saving society.
Beijing also plans to raise its price of water within two years from the present 2.9 yuan (US$0.35) per ton to 4.5 yuan (US$0.54) per ton.
President Hu Jintao earlier this month stressed the importance of water saving at a conference on population, environment and resources.
(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2004)