Three Gorges Dam. Photo by Britrob via Flickr Creative Commons
Knowing that China is hurting for water, it comes as no surprise that the country is setting aside a massive $30 billion for water conservation during 2011. China's rapid growth could be stalled by water shortages, which is needed for everything from manufacturing to mining to generating electricity. During the next year, China will be focused on better irrigation for food security as well as protection from droughts and floods. Reuters reports that the budget is about 1/10 higher than 2010's budget for conservation, and that the funds will be directed toward irrigation improvements, which will help with food security, and to combat drought and floods which are getting worse every year though some blame China itself, and not the weather, for droughts.
China will also work on renovating water supply infrastructure so that 60 million people living in rural areas will have access to safe drinking water. Unfortunately, China has an incredibly bad record on water pollution, with over half of the water supply unsafe to drink. So in addition to water conservation, perhaps cleaning water supplies might inch up higher on the to-do list. However, rather than clean water, the country is more focused on grain supplies. According to Reuters:
Chen Xiwen, director of the central government's rural work leading group who advises top leaders on rural policy, said the government would specifically target water conservation next year because of worry about grain production, it said.
While grain production will rise to 546.4 million metric tons this year, up by 15.6 million metric tons on last year, there are worries about next year's harvest because of natural disasters, which could push up food prices, Chen Xiwen added.
In addition to natural disasters, urban sprawl is also to blame. Cities have encroached on farmland that would otherwise have been used for food production.
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