China: invest wisely in sustainable water use.


SINCE 2006, CHINA HAS SUFFERED SEVERE droughts every year, including one in the humid southwest in the spring of 2010. The current severe drought in the North China Plain is threatening more than 6.5 million hectares of winter wheat. Public health has been heavily affected by poor water quality. From 2006 to 2010, an additional 200,000 to 500,000 water-related diseases were reported each year, compared with those reported in 2004 to 2005 (1). On 29 January 2011, the Chinese government announced a plan to invest US$60 billion per year for 10 years to achieve sustainable water use. However, the increased investment mainly targets improving infrastructure “hardware,” such as building new reservoirs, drilling wells, increasing water supply for key irrigation districts, and implementing interbasin water transfer projects. The plan largely ignores information sharing, good planning, and governance “software,” which should be given priority (2, 3). Since the 1950s, China has invested huge amounts of money and labor into developing irrigation and water conservancy facilities. This has helped to feed the increasingly large population of China, but current water use is not sustainable (2, 4). The transition from farmer-initiated development of rural water facilities to the central government–dominated construction of major water infrastructures starting around 1978 has led to an imbalance in the irrigation network. Its main arteries are often well constructed, but small arterioles and capillaries to connect farmlands are underfunded. The end-pipe irrigation system at the farm level is critical in preventing disasters. In addition, policy implementation based on administrative units rather than watersheds hampers effective rural water management. Therefore, in addition to water conservation and effi ciency options (3, 5), two urgent issues must be addressed. The increased government funding must be directed to the improvement, construction, and management of rural water systems. Integrated water resource management must be adopted to Projecting Human DNA Patent Numbers

DOI: 10.1126/science.331.6022.1264-b

Cite this paper

@article{Gong2011ChinaIW, title={China: invest wisely in sustainable water use.}, author={Peng Gong and Yongyuan Yin and Chaoqing Yu}, journal={Science}, year={2011}, volume={331 6022}, pages={1264-5} }