China plans to invest 20 billion yuan (2.43 billion US dollars) in massive water-saving projects in the Yellow River Valley over the next eight years.
Officials with Yellow River Water Conservancy Committee said the large scale investment plan was designed to alleviate acute water shortages facing the valley.
The areas involved include Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Shaanxi province, both in northwest China, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China, Henan province in central China, and Shandong province east China.
The Yellow River, 5,464 kilometers in length, has dried up many times before reaching the Bohai Sea during the past decade due to excessive diversion of water for farming and industrial use.
The officials said the average annual amount of rain inflow of the river, the second longest in China after the Yangtze, was 58 billion cubic meters, of which 30.7 billion cubic meters was drawn for farming, industrial and domestic uses.
They predict the areas in the middle and lower reaches of the river may lack up to 10 billion cubic meters of water in a dry year by 2010.
China plans to turn 64 percent of the eight million hectares of irrigated farmland in the valley into water-efficient farmland, compared with current 20 percent rate.
(Xinhua News Agency October 21, 2002)