Thirsty China Sets Ambitious Water - Saving Goal
China has per capita water resources well below global averages, and expects climate change to worsen shortages across the already arid north, but until now it has focused on massive water transfer schemes to try to resolve the problem.
The target, which matches one for energy saving over the same period, was also signed off by the water resources and construction ministries, the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its Web site (www.ndrc.gov.cn).
Under the plan, China aims to boost efficiency in agricultural irrigation systems -- in some areas the most wasteful users of water -- increase recycling of urban water and cut back on leaks from urban pipe networks, the document said.
Altogether it should save 69 billion cubic metres of water, the report added.
China has only recently started focusing on environmental protection after years of promoting economic growth at almost any cost, as riots and mounting bills over pollution problems drew Beijing's attention to the problem.
This year alone, drought in northwestern Shaanxi province has left at least 300,000 people short of drinking water.
Tap water turned salty in parts of the gambling hub of the former Portuguese enclave of Macau after water flows down the Pearl River slowed, and the sea level rose, forcing it to hastily build a plan to access fresh water further upstream.