The per head water resources of the Yangtze River drainage area dropped to 2,100 cubic meters in 2001, only one quarter of the world's average level, according to the latest communiqué on the status of the water resources of the river.
The communiqué released by the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee said the Yangtze, China's longest river, annually flows 960 billion cubic meters of water into the ocean and its drainage area covers 1.8 million square kilometers.
Shen Tai, deputy director of the Yangtze River Water Resources committee said the Yangtze drainage area is affluent in water resources compared with China's parched north.
According to Shen, although the Yangtze drainage area suffered severe drought in 2001, its total volume of water resources stayed at 889.2 billion cubic meters, similar to that of previous years.
Therefore, the drop of per capita water resource volume can be attributed to the region's rapidly increasing population, Shen said.
Statistics issued by the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee show that in 1980, the population of the Yangtze drainage area was more than 340 million, while in 2001, the figure rose to 420 million. Hence, the per capita water resources dropped from 2,700 cubic meters in 1980 to the 2,100 cubic meters in 2001.
Plus, uneven water distribution and severe pollution are another two main reasons for the water shortages suffered by some areas of the Yangtze drainage area.
A survey released by the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee showed that to date, a total of 59 cities along the river have water shortage problems. Twenty-six of them are suffering severe water shortage.
Shen also noted that efforts should be further consolidated to better protect the Yangtze's water resources, utilize the resources in a scientific way and implement water-saving measures along the whole drainage area.
Only in this way can sustainable development along the Yangtze be achieved and can the river reserve enough water resources to divert to China's parched north.
According to an earlier report, China's massive south-to-north water transfer project kicked off last Friday.
The huge undertaking will involve three canals running 1,300 kilometers across the eastern, middle and western parts of China linking four major rivers -- the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe rivers.
It will cost 486 billion yuan (about US$59 billion), twice as much as the country's Three Gorges project.
The project was developed because the north is in dire need of water, which the south has in abundance, and major beneficiaries will include the capital Beijing, the industrial hub Tianjin, and Jiangsu and Shandong provinces in the east.
Upon completion, more than 44.8 billion cubic meters (1,568 billion cubic feet) of water will be pumped into the north each year.
(Xinhua News Agency January 4, 2003)