The year 2002 saw three events in China's water conservation sector, namely the embankment strengthening and extension along the Yangtze River, implementing of the revised Water Law and the beginning of the south-to-north water diversion project.
This was revealed recently by Minister of Water Resources Wang Shucheng.
Wang said that water is a fundamental natural resource as well as a strategic economic resource. A better solution of the three biggest problems in water conservation in China, which are flooding, water shortages and water pollution, will help the country build a more affluent society, he added.
In 2002, the strengthening and extension of the Yangtze River embankments in Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan, and Hubei provinces was completed. The work began four years ago, following disastrous floods on the middle and lower reaches of the river.
The 3,500-km new embankments along the middle and lower Yangtze will remarkably enhance the anti-flooding capacity of the river.
The floods of 1998 claimed more than 1,000 lives and caused economic loss of billions of yuan. The investment for the embankments, totaling more than 30 billion yuan, was mainly from the central government.
Wang said the water level of the Yangtze in the summer of 2002 almost equaled that of 1998, but no disaster occurred, thanks to the solid new embankments.
The revised water law of China, put into effect on Oct. 1, 2002, will offer legal support to help alleviate and solve China's three major water problems.
Originally promulgated in 1988, the law marked the beginning of China using legal means to administrate water conservation. Implementation of the water law for 14 years has help the country improve its water use efficiency, perfect its water resources administrative rules and fight against floods and droughts.
On Dec. 27, 2002, China started its gigantic south-to-north water division project, which is expected to take 50 years to complete and cost US$59 billion.
The project involves three canals running 1,300 kilometers across the eastern, middle and western parts of China, linking the country's four major rivers -- the Yangtze, Yellow, Huaihe and Haihe.
Once the project is completed, the severe water shortage suffered by the country's parched north will be greatly alleviated, and optimal allocation of water resources from the four rivers will be realized.
(Xinhua News Agency January 2, 2003