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The World Banks Assistance for Water Resources Management in China

By Varley, Robert C. G.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000066478
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.6 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005

Title: The World Banks Assistance for Water Resources Management in China  
Author: Varley, Robert C. G.
Language: English
Subject: Economics, Finance & business, World Bank.
Collections: Economics Publications Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: The World Bank


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G. Varle, R. C. (n.d.). The World Banks Assistance for Water Resources Management in China. Retrieved from


China has an ancient tradition of hydraulic engineering but in the past half century the intensity of exploitation of water resources has accelerated as a result of population and economic growth. The three major issues for Chinese water management are water shortages, flood control and pollution. The World Commission on Dams noted that since 1949 the number of large dams in China had increased from 22 to 22,000, almost half the global total. China has over 80,000 reservoirs and 240,000 km of dikes. Most rivers and streams are now used for irrigation, power generation, transport, urban water supply or waste disposal, some for all of these purposes. The term ?water crisis? is often used?as much to stress the importance of timely action to prevent events far in the future as to indicate an imminent and unusual catastrophe.1 Flooding and droughts have always been a problem in China but the scale and the economic impact, increasing frequency and water pollution costs have put water issues high on the domestic political agenda. The gigantic South North Transfer Project is now underway and will, at uncertain cost, reduce the pressures to re-allocate water away from the low efficiency irrigation sector. While doomsday scenarios largely ignore the adaptive mechanisms in the economy complacency is not justified and both environmental health and economic impacts rightly remain prominent issues. The pace of economic growth is driving water resources depletion, exacerbated by watershed degradation, organic and chemical pollution. Freshwater resources are renewed by rainfall run-off and snowmelt, but both manmade and natural reservoirs (e.g. groundwater and lakes) permit users to consume at a rate above recharge, at a cost to nature and future generations. For instance in 1996, Haihe groundwater usage was 146 percent of recharge, and the Luanhe Basin 191 percent.2 The hydrogeology is complex and problems localized, but the exhaustion of un-renewable fossil aquifers combined with falling grain reserves are widely perceived as consequences of a risky strategy of growth at any cost. It remains to be seen if the new leadership?s commitment to sustainable development principles will be translated into effective regulation and more demand responsive allocation of water resources...


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