China Sounds Alarm Bell Over Water Shortage

June 15, 2004

Facing another hot and dry summer, China is sounding the alarm bell over its worsening water shortage and the effect it has already started to have on the economy, the AFP reported.

China's water supply is under greater pressure than ever, and the situation will go on deteriorating until 2030, when the population peaks at 1.6 billion, the China Daily said.

"By then, China may be plunged into a water crisis," said Suo Lisheng, vice minister of water resources.

According to a China Daily report, the problem is that China is much more wasteful in its use of water than most other countries, even though it has far fewer resources than the world average.

The report showed that China consumed 3,860 cubic meters (135,000 cubic feet) of water every time it added 10,000 dollars to its gross domestic product last year, about four times the world average. While the available water resources are only 2,200 cubic meters (77,000 cubic feet) per person, one quarter the typical figures in other countries.

All parts of the economy have to pay for the problem, such as industry, where an estimated 230 billion yuan (27 billion dollars) is lost every year because there is not enough water.

In agriculture, 27 million hectares (68 million acres) of farmland, or one-fifth of the country's total, are affected by drought, according to the report.

"Building a water-saving society is the best strategy for China to tackle the problem," Lisheng said.

Source: AFP

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