Billions to be poured into ailing reservoirs

Source:China Daily Author: Date:2011-02-28

China will invest nearly 63 billion yuan ($9.3 billion) on reinforcing more than 40,000 small reservoirs across the nation as part of its efforts to cope with the ongoing risks of drought and flooding.
Before the end of 2012, a total of 24.4 billion yuan will be spent on repairing 5,400 small reservoirs that have a capacity of between 1 million cubic meters and 10 million cu m, the State Council, or China's Cabinet, said in a statement on Tuesday after an executive meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao.

Another 15,900 small reservoirs with a capacity of more than 200,000 cu m will be consolidated by the end of 2013, thanks to an estimated investment of at least 38 billion yuan.

And the remaining 25,000 reservoirs will be improved with funding from local governments before the end of 2015, according to the statement.

The move means all of the country's reservoirs will have been repaired by 2015 in a campaign that will not only ensure they work efficiently but also eliminate potential safety hazards.

The spending plan is considered part of the country's efforts to reinforce water conservation initiatives and combat natural disasters, such as floods and droughts.

Since 2008, maintenance work on all the 7,356 medium-sized and large reservoirs and key small reservoirs has been carried out. That work was finished by the end of 2010 and cost at least 70 billion yuan, the statement said.

The strengthened reservoirs stood up to several severe floods during the 2010 flood season and protected 144 million people downstream of them, it added.

Water conservation has been highlighted by the central government this year after the country suffered severe droughts, flooding and flows of mud and rock in some regions during the past few years, exposing weaknesses in China's water conservancy infrastructure.

China has been suffering from a severe drought since October with more than 6 million hectares of farmland affected in Shandong, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan, Gansu and Shaanxi - the country's eight main winter wheat producing provinces.

In light of the serious drought, the improvement of water facilities became increasingly urgent, agriculture experts noted.

More than 66 percent of the country's small and medium-sized rivers do not meet national flood control standards and more than 32,000 small reservoirs are flawed, according to statistics from the Ministry of Water Resources.

China plans to invest 4 trillion yuan on improving water conservation during the coming decade.