China plans to launch at least another 15 major water conservancy projects next year, increasing targeted investment in the field to more than 900 billion yuan ($130 billion), the Ministry of Water Resources announced on Dec 28.
Having launched 21 projects in 2016, construction work is now underway at 106 projects, increasing total investment in ongoing projects to 800 billion yuan.
The latest, the Yangtze-to-Huaihe Water Diversion Project, begins on Dec 29. As construction of more than half of all 172 projects proposed in 2014 is underway, the ministry plans to shift some of its focus.
“We will continue to push forward new projects next year, but we will also focus on the actual operation of these projects,” said Wang Annan, head of the ministry’s Planning Division.
“Six projects have been completed and major construction has finished at another eight sites, where benefits have begun to show.”
In May 2014, proposals for 172 major water conservancy projects were approved by the State Council, China’s cabinet, part of attempts to increase the nation’s water supplies and agricultural irrigation capabilities.
All such projects are expected to have begun construction by 2020.
“The projects are primarily to defend against flooding and to ease water scarcity,” Wang said. “In addition, there are agricultural water-saving projects to safeguard the security of food production.”
“We have completed high-efficiency water-saving irrigation projects covering more than 1.45 million hectares nationwide,” said Wang Aiguo, head of the ministry’s Rural Water Conservancy Division.
The ministry has also vowed to address weak points highlighted by this year’s natural disasters, including the inability to drain floodwater in some cities and the lack of a warning system for extreme weather in rural areas.
In July, consecutive days of record-breaking rainfall and a lack of floodwater storage left Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, flooded for days. Also in July, a blockage in a river bed resulted in flash floods that killed more than 30 people in Hebei province.
“I understand that in summer the waterlogging was partly due to a lack of floodwater storage because of the high water level of the Yangtze River,” said Zhou Xin, a 26-year-old living in Wuhan. “I hope effective countermeasures are taken, such as keeping lakes from commercial use.”