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Current Policies And Practices Of Water Resources Management In China

World Water Congress 2015 Edinburgh Scotland
10. Management of water resources
Author(s): Yiwen Wang
Hongxian Liu
Chao Ma

Yiwen Wang, Hongxian Liu, Chao Ma
Development Research Center of the Ministry of Water Resources of P.R.China

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 10: Management of water resources,


1. Background

Water shortage has been constraining China's sustainable development. In 2011, the central government issued the "No.1 Document" and convened a conference on water conservancy of the highest level ever, clarifying that The Most Stringent Water Resources Management System (MSWRMS) should be implemented as the major strategic measure to combat water shortage in China.

2. Main Content of MSWRMS

MSWRMS is a major strategic choice that China has made to address complex water problems and face up to more severe future water challenges based on the reality of large population, limited land, and water shortage. "Three red lines" and "Four systems" constitute the core of MSWRMS, which are designed to achieve a balance between economic and social development and the bearing capacity of water resources.

The red line for controlling water resources development and utilization clearly states that up to 2030, total water consumption nationwide should not exceed 700 billion cubic meters by defining the maximum

amount of water consumption of various river basins, regions, sectors, and water users. MSWRMS sets out the measures to achieve the target, including strict planning and management and water resources argumentation, strict implementation of water abstraction licensing, strict compensation for the use of water resources, strict groundwater management and protection, and strengthened scheduling of water resources.

The red line for raising water efficiency sets water efficiency targets for various regions, sectors, and water-consuming products. By 2030, water use efficiency for every 10 thousand yuan of industrial added value should be reduced to 40 cubic meters; and the effective utilization coefficient of irrigation water should be improved to above 0.6. And the red line can be hold by strengthening water conservation management and water quota management, accelerating technological transformation, curbing water waste, and promoting a water-saving society.

The red line for controlling pollutant discharges in water functioning zones puts a cap on the total amount of major pollutants into rivers and lakes. Up until 2030, water quality compliance rate of water functioning zones in rivers and lakes should be raised to above 95%. To strictly control discharges to into rivers and lakes and improve water quality, feasible measures include strict supervision and management of water functional areas, strengthened protection of drinking water sources, and protection and restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

Responsibility and performance appraisal system of water resources management. Indicators of water resources development, utilization, conservation and protection are incorporated into the comprehensive evaluation system for local economic and social development. Strict assessments will be carried out accordingly. It is therefore necessary to improve the monitoring system for strengthened water monitoring, metering and statistics, to upgrade the mechanisms for water resources management and input, and straighten out the policies and regulations and social supervision mechanism.

3. Features of MSWRMS

First, MSWRMS sets sustainability as the goal to address the problems of water shortage, water pollution, water ecological degradation, etc, in order to promote sustainable use of water resources and sustainable social and economic development.

Second, it covers the whole water resources management process. The "three red lines" support each other by focusing on water abstraction, use and discharge respectively.

Third, it takes advantage of multiple implementation measures. Administrative and economic measures, science and technology, publication and education are being comprehensively motivated to strengthen management of water resources evaluation, water permits, water use on payment basis, water quota, water rights and water pricing.

Forth, cross-sector coordination and public participation are also emphasized to enhance communication and coordination among sectors, improve public participation mechanisms, and promote scientific and democratic decision-making of water resources management.

Fifth, the leading power of the government will be further unleashed and water market cultivated to reasonably allocate water resources through market mechanism.

Sixth, it attaches great importance to the rule of law and institution. Improving laws, policies and regulations, and reinforcing water resources management system will be resorted to implement the three red lines.

4. Effectiveness of MSWRMS Implementation

First, the breaking down of the red line indicators on provincial, municipal and county levels has been basically completed.

Second, new progress has been made in building national, river basin and regional monitoring platforms, thus basically forming three major monitoring systems, covering important water users, significant water functioning zones and provincial sections respectively.

Third, remarkable achievements have been made in pilot areas in implementing MSWRMS.

5. Looking Ahead

Advanced concepts and experience on water resources management is needed to further strengthen public participation, land and water resources planning and management, risk management, etc. so as to make this policy more suit China's water management situation. 1. Larsen F, Owen R, Dahlin T, et al. (2001) Integrated water resources management: theory, practice, cases. Proceedings of the Second Water Net/WARFSA Symposium, Cape Town: RSA.

2. UN-WATER. (2012) Status report on the application of integrated approaches to water resources management, http://www.unwater.org/rio2012/report/index.html.

3. UN-WATER. (2008) Status report on integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans, http://www.unwater.org/downloads/UNW_Status_Report_IWRM.pdf.

4. Wenlai JIANG. (2007) The discussion of water resources management trends. Land & Resources, (7):20-21.

5. Xiaodong WANG, Xiangyun LI. (2007) The connotation and challenges of Integrated Water Resources Management. Water Resources Development Research, (7):4-9.

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