Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). This is the 25th briefing in the series "Embarking on the New Journey — A Government Perspective." Today, we have invited Mr. Li Guoying, minister of water resources, to brief you on making solid progress in water management and comprehensively upgrading the country's capacity to ensure national water security, and to take your questions. In addition, we are also joined today by Mr. Zhang Xiangwei, director general of the Department of Planning and Programming of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR); Mr. Chen Mingzhong, director general of the Department of Rural Water and Hydropower of the MWR; and Mr. Yao Wenguang, director general of the Department of Flood and Drought Disaster Prevention of the MWR.
Now, I'll give the floor to Mr. Li for a brief introduction.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good afternoon. I'm very grateful to friends from the media for your long-term concern and strong support for the development of water resources management.
The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has set forth clear requirements for enhancing disaster prevention, reduction and relief capabilities, as well as coordinating the management of water resources, water environment and water ecology. This has provided guidance and direction for the management of water resources in the new era. The MWR has thoroughly studied and implemented the principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, diligently putting into practice General Secretary Xi Jinping's principles of "prioritizing water conservation, balancing spatial distribution, taking systematic approaches and giving full play to the roles of both government and market" and his important expositions on water management. We have made substantial progress in promoting the high-quality development of water resources management in this new stage. This progress has provided a robust guarantee for water security as we strive to build a modern socialist country and achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
First, we have been making every effort to prevent floods and droughts. We prioritize the safety of people's lives and property, with the goal of ensuring "no casualties, no reservoir collapses, no breaches in important embankments and no impact on vital infrastructure." We are fully committed to ensuring the safety of urban and rural water supply and dealing with severe floods and droughts. In particular, during this year's "23-7" super large flood in the Haihe River Basin, we conducted daily analysis of rainfall, strengthened forecasting and warning measures, and effectively managed the basin's flood control engineering system. A total of 84 large and medium-sized reservoirs stored 2.85 billion cubic meters of floodwater. We efficiently managed river systems to disperse floods, utilizing eight national flood storage and detention areas to store an impressive 2.53 billion cubic meters of floodwater. There were no dam collapses or breaches in important embankments. Flooding was reduced in 24 cities and towns, and 7.51 million mu of cultivated land was protected. We were able to avoid the displacement of 4.623 million people, thus ensuring the safety of people's lives and property to the greatest extent possible.
Second, we have implemented major national water network projects. We are diligently carrying out the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan and striving to build a comprehensive national water network that is complete, safe, reliable, efficient, green and intelligent, with smooth circulation and orderly regulation. We have accelerated the implementation of several major national water network projects, including the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project (transferring water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir to Tuancheng Lake in Beijing's Summer Palace), Beibu Gulf Rim Water Resources Allocation Project, and the second phase of the Huaihe River Waterway into the Sea Project. Additionally, we are expediting the construction of water networks at the provincial, municipal and county levels. We are also revising flood control plans for major river basins such as the Yangtze River, Yellow River, Huaihe River, Haihe River, Pearl River, Songhua River, Liaohe River and Taihu Lake. Furthermore, we are enhancing the basin flood control engineering system, which primarily consists of reservoirs, rivers, embankments, and flood storage and detention areas. We are also working to improve rural water supply systems and promote the integration of urban and rural water supply, large-scale centralized water supply, and standardized construction and management of small water supply projects based on local conditions. From January to August this year, China invested a total of 985.6 billion yuan in the construction of water conservancy facilities. We initiated 23,600 new water conservancy projects and invested 736.1 billion yuan in the completion of water conservancy construction, both of which set historical records for the same period. The construction of water conservancy projects created 1.971 million jobs, providing strong support for economic recovery.
Third, we have been revitalizing the ecological environment of rivers and lakes. We are strengthening the supervision of ecological flow in rivers and lakes, implementing ecological water replenishment measures, and undertaking restoration efforts for 88 key rivers. Building upon the historic reconnection of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal last year after a centurylong hiatus, we have facilitated its reconnection once again this year. The water in the Yongding River continues to flow. We are comprehensively managing the overexploitation of groundwater in North China and 10 key areas, including the Sanjiang Plain and Liaohe Plain. We have also initiated deep groundwater replenishment projects. We are making every effort to ensure the water quality safety of the Danjiangkou Reservoir and its upstream basin, as well as the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. Additionally, we are actively promoting water and soil erosion controls in key areas such as the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, and the black soil area in Northeast China.
Fourth, we have stepped up efforts to promote the construction of the digital twin system for water resources management. In a systematic and well-organized manner, we have completed the top-level design of digital twins of river basins, water networks, and the project, carrying out 94 pilot programs and promoting the construction of digital twins of irrigated areas in 48 locations. The system has helped to make predictive, scientific, and safe decisions this year in terms of flood and drought disaster prevention, optimized allocation of water resources, and management and protection of water environments.
Fifth, we have set up and improved the water conservation policy system. We have implemented a comprehensive conservation strategy, imposing rigid constraints on water use, and followed the principle of taking water availability as a determining factor in urban and industrial development, agriculture, and population distribution. We have stepped up efforts to carry out nationwide water-saving campaigns to promote water conservation in agriculture, industry, and urban areas in order to raise efficiency, reduce emissions, and cut water losses, respectively. We have made great efforts to control the total amount and intensity of water consumption and accelerated water allocation of rivers and lakes that cross provinces. Supervision and management of water drawing and water use have been strengthened. We have stepped up efforts to ensure that every unit with an annual water consumption of more than 10,000 cubic meters in the Yangtze River Economic Belt has adopted the planned water use management, while the compulsory water quota management system has been adopted in the Yellow River Basin. Moreover, we have ensured that water-receiving areas in the eastern and middle routes of the South-to-North diversion project have adopted the water conservation policy. All these efforts have been helpful in raising water use efficiency and benefits.
Sixth, we have strengthened management systems and mechanisms according to the law. The Yellow River Protection Law was launched and took effect on April 1 this year. We have also enhanced the study, publicity, and implementation of the Yangtze River Protection Law and the Yellow River Protection Law and stepped up efforts to put follow-up systems in place. The MWR, together with the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice, launched a special law enforcement campaign to protect rivers and lakes. We have also worked with the Supreme People's Procuratorate to carry out a special campaign to protect water resources in the Yellow River Basin. Moreover, we have deepened the reform of water conservancy investment and financing systems and improved the system to manage the operation of water conservancy projects. More efforts have been made to strengthen the river and lake chief system and enhance the overall planning, regulation, distribution, and management so that we are able to regulate and manage water resources in a better way.
That's my introduction. Now, my colleagues and I would like to answer the questions that you're concerned about. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Li. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify the news outlet you represent before raising your questions.
What measures has the MWR adopted to restore the ecological environment of rivers and lakes? Could you please share with us some practices and experiences in this regard? What measures will be put in place to help make more rivers and lakes benefit the people? Thank you.
In recent years, the MWR has implemented the philosophy of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared development, and resolutely delivered on the guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping's water management concept of "prioritizing water conservation, balancing spatial distribution, taking systematic approaches, and giving full play to the roles of both government and market." We have also promoted the comprehensive and systematic management of river basins and accelerated our efforts to restore the ecological environment of rivers and lakes, ensuring healthier rivers and lakes.
First, we have stepped up efforts to restore the rivers that do not flow and lakes that have shrunk or dried up. We have taken steps to replenish rivers and lakes in north China and the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. A total of 48 rivers and lakes spanning seven river systems in the Haihe River Basin were replenished in 2022, with around 7 billion cubic meters of water being replenished. By doing so, most of the rivers in North China are now clean and able to flow freely. More and more rivers are restoring life and regaining vitality. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal was fully connected for the first time in a century. As many as 88 rivers were restored in the campaign to better protect "mother rivers." We have put in place a river- and lake-targeted distribution policy to optimize the allocation of water resources. All these efforts have been significant in recovering connectivity between rivers and lakes and restoring damaged ecosystems as well.
Second, we have made great efforts to ensure the ecological flow of rivers and lakes. We have set up ecological flow targets for 171 major cross-provincial rivers and lakes, as well as those for 415 intro-provincial rivers and lakes. Given this, we have adopted a series of measures, including a unified distribution of water resources in the river and lake basins, strict control of the total amount of water drawing and water use, enhanced dynamic monitoring and early warning systems, and strict supervision and assessment in order to ensure all the aforementioned targets can be realized. In 2022, over 90% of the key rivers and lakes nationwide realized their ecological flow target, and more than 41,000 small hydro-power stations in the country basically followed the principles of "releasing and monitoring waters according to water level measurement results." All these practices have played an important role in restoring river connectivity and reviving the ecological environment of rivers and lakes.
Third, we have made more efforts to manage and protect rivers and lakes. We have strengthened the river-and-lake-chief responsibility system. We have appointed 300,000 river and lake chiefs at the levels of provinces, municipalities, counties, and townships, while at the village level, as many as 900,000 river and lake chiefs have been appointed. A joint meeting mechanism for river and lake chiefs at the provincial level over the seven major river basins have been set up, and we have enhanced the overall planning, regulation, distribution, and management of these areas. By doing so, we are able to establish a management and protection system for rivers and lakes featuring a coordinated synergy between upstream and downstream areas, left and right banks, as well as trunks and tributaries. We have tightened the control over shoreline space around the rivers and lakes and regulated the management of river and lake sand mining. We have taken advantage of such technologies as satellite remote sensing and drones to strengthen daily supervision and patrol, which will improve the efficiency of supervision over rivers and lakes. In 2022, we rectified 29,000 problems related to rivers and lakes, including indiscriminate occupation, unauthorized excavation, inappropriate dumping, and unlawful construction. These efforts have improved flood carrying and storage capacities of rivers and lakes. The environment and ecosystems of rivers and lakes have been improved as well.
Fourth, we have expedited our approach to addressing the overexploitation of groundwater. We have expedited the establishment of dual control indicators for the total amount of groundwater extraction and the water level, ensuring strict control over the intensity of groundwater exploitation. Using measures such as "reducing, replacing, controlling, replenishing, and managing," we continuously promote the comprehensive treatment of excessive groundwater extraction in northern China. We have improved the mechanism for reporting changes in groundwater and strengthened our groundwater supervision. In 2022, the amount of groundwater extracted in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region decreased by about 4 billion cubic meters compared to 2018. This led to a reduction in excessive groundwater extraction by 2.6 billion cubic meters. The proportion of groundwater supply decreased to 35% from 51% in 2018. Consequently, the groundwater level in the treatment area has achieved an overall recovery.
Fifth, we have promoted comprehensive control of soil erosion. Through measures such as strengthening the prevention of soil erosion, strictly regulating human-induced soil erosion in accordance with the law, and accelerating the treatment of soil erosion in key areas, we have made steady progress in controlling soil erosion nationwide and have steadily improved the quality and stability of the ecosystem. The country's soil erosion area was reduced to 2.6534 million square kilometers in 2022, a decrease of 83,500 square kilometers compared to 2018.
In subsequent phases, the MWR will persist in promoting the execution of crucial tasks. These include the rejuvenation of the "mother rivers," ecological preservation and restoration of rivers and lakes, comprehensive mitigation of groundwater overexploitation, and all-encompassing soil erosion control. Our goal is to ensure the health of rivers and lakes and work towards their sustainable utilization. Thank you.
Despite existing mitigation efforts, China was struck by severe flooding again this year. Climate change promises to bring more extreme weather in years to come. What new and enhanced measures is China taking to protect its people and prevent flood damage to its economy, including sectors like agriculture? Thank you.
Thank you for your attention to China's flood disaster prevention. This year, the Haihe River Basin experienced the worst basin-wide flood since 1963. I would like to invite Mr. Yao to answer your question.
Thank you for your question. Since ancient times, China's fundamental water situation has been marked by summer floods and winter droughts, with a scarcity of water in the north and an abundance in the south. Water resources are extremely unevenly distributed, both temporally and spatially. Water-related disasters, such as floods and droughts, are frequent. As a result, the development of water conservancy and flood disaster prevention has always been crucial for the country's security and stability. In addressing various flood and drought disasters, we have consistently adopted a people-centered development philosophy and implemented a range of preventative measures. In recent years, we have managed challenges like autumn floods on a rarely seen scale of the Yellow River since 1949 and the most severe meteorological and hydrological drought in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River since 1961. Especially during this year's flood season, when faced with the worst flood in the Haihe River Basin since 1963, the water conservancy departments prioritized the safety of people, emphasizing the importance of life and property. Aiming for "no casualties, no dam collapses, no breaches in vital embankments, and no impact on key infrastructure," we have fulfilled our responsibilities and carried out preventive measures with meticulous care. Through these efforts, we have achieved commendable results in disaster prevention and mitigation.
First, we have carried out consultations and deployments in advance. During the occurrence and development of floods and the process of prevention and protection, consultation opinions and dispatch instructions are sent directly to the frontline of flood control and drought relief. This year, in response to the extremely severe flooding in the Haihe River Basin, the MWR activated a level-III emergency response to flooding in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region on July 28, and upgraded it to level II on July 30. At the same time, 26 working groups were dispatched to the frontline to guide flood control in the region.
Second, we have strengthened measures for forecasting, early warning, and emergency planning and preparedness. We have increased the frequency of monitoring, set up emergency monitoring sections in central areas of heavy rain and vital flood discharge channels, and delivered important information directly to the front line. At the same time, we have released flood forecasts on a rolling basis, issued river flood warnings to the public, and promptly sent forecasts to the relevant provinces, cities, and units. This year, in response to the extremely severe flooding in the Haihe River Basin, water conservancy departments in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, and Henan issued a total of 11,900 county-level flash flood warnings, alerting local governments to evacuate 139,800 people from risk areas. Authorities in Hebei, Tianjin, and Henan also activated contingency plans to relocate nearly 1 million people from flood storage and retention areas in advance.
Third, we have meticulously managed our water projects. Guided by the principle of being systematic, scientific, orderly and safe, we've regulated water projects scientifically. To address the rare autumn floods in the Yellow River in 2021, we precisely deployed the Xiaolangdi, Sanmenxia, Wanjiazhai, Guxian, and Hekou reservoirs, among others. By consistently controlling the flow at the Huayuankou hydrology station to around 4,800 cubic meters per second, we effectively avoided the need for relocating 1.4 million people in the downstream area and saved a total of 3.99 million mu of farmland. To counter the unusual drought in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River in 2022, we organized and implemented two rounds of joint reservoir group water supply operations within the Yangtze River basin. We accurately deployed a total of 75 reservoirs, including those within the upper reach of the Yangtze River, centered around the Sanxia Reservoir, as well as the Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake. As a result, a total of 6.16 billion cubic meters of water was supplied downstream, ensuring irrigation for around 183 million mu of autumn grain crops along the water supply line. In dealing with this year's heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin, we scientifically managed 84 large and medium-sized reservoirs in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Additionally, we utilized eight flood storage and detention areas to divert, store, and control the floods, giving full play to the role of the river basin flood control engineering system in flood control and disaster relief. This proactive approach minimized the damage caused by flooding, ensuring the safety of both people's lives and their property.
Fourth, we have strengthened efforts in inspection and prevention. The water conservancy departments have made full use of technological advantages, dispatching experts to the front lines to combat floods, droughts and other dangers and to provide guidance on identifying hidden dangers and carrying out rescue operations in a scientific way. In dealing with the heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin this year, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region deployed over 220,000 inspections of dikes, addressing 131 dangerous dike and reservoir situations. Thanks to the joint efforts of multiple parties, no reservoirs or dams collapsed, no major dikes failed, and there were no mass casualties during the heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin.
For the next steps, the MWR will collaborate with relevant departments and local governments to step up efforts for the improvement of the river basin flood control engineering system. We will expedite the construction of flood detention reservoirs as well as embankments and flood control facilities in flood storage and detention areas, bolster the management of key river channels, and advance the management of small and medium-sized rivers and mountain flood ditches. Concurrently, we'll hasten the establishment of "three lines of defense" for rainwater monitoring and forecasting. We will advance the construction of digital twins for river basins and the capacity building for forecasting, early warning, and emergency planning and preparedness. We will improve systems, mechanisms, and law-based governance in this regard, strengthen the management of flood storage and detention areas and the spatial control of river channels, and comprehensively enhance our capacity to prevent floods, droughts and other disasters. Thank you.
Beijing Youth Daily:
We all know that food security is among the country's most fundamental interests. Irrigation areas remain a basic guarantee of food security. What efforts have been made by the MWR to build and upgrade irrigation areas? Thank you.
Mr. Chen Mingzhong, director general of the Department of Rural Water and Hydropower, will answer your question.
Thank you for your question. Water conservancy is the lifeblood of agriculture. The climatic characteristics and the basic water situation of our country determine that bumper harvests cannot be guaranteed without irrigation. The MWR will accelerate the construction of modern irrigation areas and the transformation of existing ones, strengthen institutional innovation, and give full play to the role of irrigation areas as the "main force" and "ballast stone" in the production of grain and other important agricultural products. As of now, China has an irrigated area of 1.055 billion mu, accounting for 55% of the country's total arable land and producing 77% of the country's grain and more than 90% of cash crops. We have mainly implemented measures from the following several aspects.
First, enhancing the irrigation and drainage engineering system. We have constructed over 7,300 large and medium-sized irrigation areas, creating a comprehensive engineering network system which can help to store, divert, lift, deliver and drain water. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025), we will carry out the renovation and modernization of more than 1,200 large and medium-sized irrigation areas across the country. Once completed, it is expected to increase or restore the irrigated area by 17.8 million mu, improve the irrigated area by 117 million mu, and raise grain production capacity by nearly 10 billion kilograms. This year, the central government plans to invest 16.6 billion yuan to renovate 581 large and medium-sized irrigation areas, marking an increase of 7 percentage points over the investment in 2022. As of now, the projects have been generally going smoothly. In collaboration with agricultural and rural departments, we will prioritize transforming large and medium-sized irrigation areas into high-standard farmland. We will address the final significant challenges in the construction of irrigation and drainage for farmland, and establish an irrigation and drainage system that extends from the water source and backbone river channels right to the end of the field.
Second, further expanding the irrigated area. We will collaborate with relevant departments to expedite the formulation of the National Farmland Irrigation Development Plan. With a focus on functional zones for grain production, major agricultural product protection areas, and areas with distinctive agricultural products, we will enhance the analysis of land and water resources and construct several water-saving and ecological irrigation areas in coordination with water source projects and water transmission and distribution projects in the national water network. During the "14th Five-Year Plan" period (2021-2025), we will construct 30 large-scale irrigation areas. It is expected to expand the irrigated area by 15 million mu, improve the existing irrigated area by 9.8 million mu, and increase grain production capacity by approximately 3.5 billion kilograms.
Third, sparing no effort to ensure water supply for irrigation. We conduct precise analysis and dynamic prediction regarding the structure of crop planting, water demand periods, and the volume of water required. To meet the water needs of crops, we bolster flood control and water storage operations in major rivers and key reservoirs, reserving water sources in case of drought. We take a targeted approach to combatting drought. Based on the water source and incoming water situation in irrigation areas, we make every effort to ensure the seasonal irrigation water supply for crops with precise scope, targeting, timing, and measures. This year's spring and summer irrigation provided a total of more than 250 billion cubic meters of water, achieving the goal of "full irrigation" and offering robust water conservancy support for the bumper harvest of wheat, corn, rice and other crops.
Fourth, innovating systems and mechanisms. We will start with the deepening of comprehensive agricultural water price reform. We are initiating the first batch of 21 modern irrigation areas and county-level pilot projects nationwide in accordance with the principles that promote efficient and sustainable use of water resources, encourage the modernization of irrigation areas by attracting social capital, and avoid adding to the burdens on farmers in grain production. We have categorized water pricing, optimized policy support, and encouraged social capital involvement, implementing a dual approach to build a group of modern irrigation areas that are technologically advanced, water-efficient, well-managed, and environmentally friendly. Thank you.
China News Service:
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have issued the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan, offering explicit instructions and requirements for accelerating the establishment of the national water network. I would like to ask about the current progress and achievements of the national water network construction project.
The MWR has faithfully implemented the deployment of the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan, and, in conjunction with relevant departments and local authorities, has accelerated the development of the national water network, achieving significant results. This is mainly manifested in four aspects:
First, the core structure and aorta of the national water network have improved at a faster pace. The initial phase of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project's Central Route has cumulatively transferred 65.4 billion cubic meters of water, directly benefiting a population of 176 million. At the same time, we have actively promoted the high-quality development of follow-up projects for the South-to-North Water Diversion, and in 2022, construction began on the Middle Line Diversion from the Yangtze River to the Han River, marking the start of the high-quality development for the follow-up projects of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. This project connects two important nodes of the national water network: the Three Gorges and Danjiangkou reservoirs, both of which are strategically important water sources for our country. It will increase the annual water transfer capacity of the South-to-North Water Diversion Central Route from 9.5 billion cubic meters to 11.5 billion cubic meters, further enhancing the integrated allocation capacity of water resources in the Yangtze River, Han River, and the North China Plain.
Second, a number of cross-basin and cross-region major water diversion projects have been completed, yielding substantial benefits. The first phase of the Yangtze River-to-Huaihe River Diversion Project achieved successful trial water diversion and navigation at the end of last year. This historic "handshake" between the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River will generate significant comprehensive benefits in terms of urban and rural water supplies, the development of the Yangtze-Huaihe River shipping route, and the enhancements to the ecological environment, benefiting a population of 51 million people in 15 cities in Anhui and Henan provinces. In addition, the Hanjiang-to-Weihe River water diversion project in Shaanxi started diverting water, bringing together the waters of the Yangtze River and the Yellow River in the Guanzhong Plain, benefiting more than 14 million people in the Guanzhong and northern Shaanxi regions. Furthermore, the Ebei North Water Resources Project in Hubei has achieved full water supply, benefiting over 4.8 million people and more than 3.8 million acres of farmland in northern Hubei.
Third, the construction of key projects in the national water network has accelerated significantly. While speeding up the progress of a number of ongoing projects such as the Dianzhong Water Diversion, East Zhuang in the Yellow River Basin, and Datengxia in the Pearl River Basin, we have also started construction on several strategically important backbone projects last year, including the second phase of the Yangtze River-to-Huaihe River Diversion Project, the Guangdong Water Resources Allocation Project in the Beibu Gulf region, and the second phase of the Huaihe River Estuary Waterway. This year, we have also started construction on key projects like the Jilin Water Network Backbone Project and the Xiongan Canal of the South-to-North Water Diversion Central Route. These projects will play a crucial role in ensuring water security for the implementation of key national strategies and the promotion of high-quality regional development.
Fourth, the planning and construction of water networks at provincial, municipal, and county levels are advanced in a coordinated manner. Last year, the MWR initiated the construction of the first batch of seven provincial-level water network pilot zones, forming a set of exemplary practices in terms of organization, project advancement, digital twin water network construction, and institutional mechanism innovation. Guided by these pilot zones, various provinces have actively promoted the construction of water networks at the provincial, municipal, and county level, focusing on connecting the "last mile" of water networks.
Next, the MWR will focus on the overall objective of comprehensively enhancing national water security. We will put into action the requirements of the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan, vigorously promote the high-quality development of follow-up initiatives for the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, expedite the groundwork of several major water projects to facilitate prompt commencement of construction. At the same time, we will guide localities in actively promoting the planning and construction of water networks at provincial, municipal, and county level and accelerate the improvement of the overall framework of the national water network. Thank you.
The report of the 20th CPC National Congress has put forward that we will implement a comprehensive conservation strategy, conserve resources of all types and use them efficiently. Could you please share what achievements the MWR has made in implementing the guideline of "prioritizing water conservation" and the national water conservation actions? What are the upcoming initiatives? Thank you.
Thank you for your questions. In April 2019, following a review by the Central Commission for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the MWR jointly released a national action plan for water conservation. Since the introduction of this plan, the MWR has adhered to and implemented a guideline of "prioritizing water conservation," collaborating with 20 State Council departments to establish a water conservation coordination mechanism. Together with the NDRC, we have issued detailed plans for specific departmental responsibilities. Furthermore, we have directed 31 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities to create provincial-level plans. These plans promote six primary actions: dual control of the total amount and efficiency of water usage, agricultural water-saving and efficiency enhancement, industrial water-saving and emission reduction, urban water-saving and loss reduction, water-saving and exploring new water sources in key areas, and a focus on technological innovation. Related systems and mechanisms have been deeply refined and various tasks were implemented and produced positive results.
By implementing the national action plan for water conservation, China has significantly enhanced its water-use efficiency and brought more beneficial results, leading to a marked improvement in societal awareness about water conservation. In 2022, water consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP decreased by 33%, and water consumption per 10,000 yuan of industrial added value decreased by 50% compared to 2015. The effective utilization coefficient of irrigation water in farmlands increased from 0.536 in 2015 to 0.572. The country's total water consumption was maintained at under 600 billion cubic meters, fully meeting the primary annual objectives outlined in the plan. This has yielded notable social, economic, and ecological benefits, paving the way for broader developmental opportunities through water conservation.
Going forward, we will carry out a comprehensive conservation strategy, fully implementing the inter-departmental coordination mechanism for water conservation. We will strengthen coordination among departments and localities, continuously implement the national action plan for water conservation, establish and refine water-saving policies and regulations, enhance supervision and management of water conservation, develop water-saving industries and technologies, raise the public's awareness of water conservation, and vigorously promote water-saving across society. Thank you.
Issued by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, the overall plan for building a digital China proposes constructing a smart water conservancy system centered on digital twin watersheds. Please explain the profound significance of building such a smart water conservancy system for ensuring national water security. Additionally, how is the MWR advancing smart water conservancy? Thank you.
I appreciate your keen interest and attention regarding this issue. The MWR has been diligently studying and implementing General Secretary Xi Jinping's thought on boosting China's strength in cyberspace and his key remarks on the management of water resources. We rigorously enact the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We consider the smart water conservancy as one of the six sensible ways for improving water conservancy as we enter a new stage. We adhere to the principles of demand-driven, practical-first, digital empowerment, and capability enhancement and utilize the new generation of information technology, in order to systematically establish a digital twin water conservancy system and provide forward-looking, science-based, precise, and secure support for water conservancy decision-making and management.
The digital twin water conservancy system is a measure for advancing smart water conservancy. When carrying out this work, we focus on three main aspects:
The first concerns the development of digital twin watersheds. With the primary goal of providing comprehensive support for unified watershed planning, governance, coordination, and management, our focus is on strengthening watersheds' resilience against floods and droughts, promoting the efficient conservation and utilization of water resources, optimizing water resource allocation, and better preserving water ecosystems. And we achieve this by enriching data, optimizing algorithms, and enhancing computing power to accelerate the digital mapping, intelligent simulation, and forward-looking rehearsal of all elements within watersheds and the comprehensive processes of water conservancy governance and management.
The second involves building digital twin water networks. Our main objective is to create a well-developed system that is safe and reliable, intensively managed and efficient, and green and intelligent, as well as featuring smooth circulation, and orderly regulation and control. Our efforts are concentrated on ensuring the safety of projects, water supply, and water quality. We do solid work in the planning, design, construction and full life cycle management of projects to achieve synchronized simulation operation. This facilitates interaction between the virtual and real components, ensuring iterative optimization.
The third is building digital twin projects. With the aim to ensure the safety of water conservancy projects and maximize their benefits, we rapidly advance the application of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology throughout the entire lifecycle of water conservancy projects. This enables projects-related online monitoring, scenario rehearsals, problem identification, optimized coordination, and safety guarantees. Thank you.
This year, the General Office of the CPC Central Committee and the General Office of the State Council released opinions on strengthening water and soil conservation in the new era. May I inquire about the effectiveness of the work in this field and how the regulation over human-induced water loss and soil erosion will be enhanced in next steps? Thank you.
The issue of water and soil loss is closely related to systematic watershed governance. Mr. Yao Wenguang, please answer the questions.
Thank you for your questions. Since the issuance of the opinions, the MWR has diligently implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council. We have promptly formulated implementation plans, clarified implementation measures, outlined the division of responsibilities, and specified work requirements to facilitate the execution of various tasks. According to the latest monitoring results from the MWR, the national soil erosion area decreased to 2.6534 million square kilometers in 2022, a reduction of 83,500 square kilometers compared to 2018. The situation of soil erosion in China has been reversed step by step, and ecosystems improved steadily .
First, we have prioritized protection and employed the strictest regulations and most rigorous rule of law to safeguard water and soil resources and strictly control any increase in human-induced soil erosion. We have comprehensively implemented the Soil and Water Conservation Law and strengthened ongoing and ex post oversight. Using tools like satellite remote sensing, we have achieved complete coverage of remote sensing supervision for soil and water conservation in production and construction projects, allowing us to promptly detect and address relevant violations in accordance with laws and regulations.
Second, we have persisted in systematic governance and adopted a scientific approach to comprehensively address soil erosion, aiming to rapidly reduce existing erosion. We have prioritized regions such as major rivers' upper and middle reaches, the black soil region in northeastern China, the karst region in southwestern China, the water source areas of the South-North Water Diversion Project, and the Three Gorges Reservoir area. We have implemented national key soil and water conservation projects tailored to local conditions while ardently promoting the construction of ecologically clean small water basins.
Third, we have persisted in reform and innovation, strengthening the management capabilities and standards of soil and water conservation while enhancing the quality of soil erosion control. We have established a system for soil and water conservation rates, encompassing the national, provincial, city, and county levels. We have advocated for creating inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms and a responsibility system for soil and water conservation targets. These measures will help expedite the development of a soil and water conservation framework in which Party committees exercise leadership, the government assumes responsibility, departments coordinate, and the public from all sectors participate.
Regarding strengthening the supervision of human-induced soil erosion, we will focus on the following three aspects:
First, we will establish a comprehensive supervision system for soil and water conservation that encompasses the entire chain and process. We will implement soil and water conservation plans for production and construction projects in accordance with the law and enhance comprehensive supervision at every stage. The standards for preventing and controlling soil and water erosion during production and construction activities will be improved. We will also set differentiated and targeted requirements based on the unique characteristics of different regions and industries, facilitating the implementation of classified and precise regulations.
Second, we will establish a precise and efficient regulatory mechanism. We will adopt a new regulatory framework that relies primarily on remote sensing supervision, complemented by key regulatory measures and based on credit supervision. Comprehensive and regular remote sensing oversight for soil and water conservation will be carried out. Illegal activities will be strictly investigated and addressed in accordance with the law. We will implement a full-scale credit evaluation for soil and water conservation, minimizing interference with compliant enterprises while focusing our intensive regulatory efforts on non-compliant enterprises and high-risk projects. We will enhance tracking and early warning for human-induced soil erosion risks, and aim to make our regulatory measures more precise and intelligent.
Third, we will strengthen inter-departmental coordination in supervision and law enforcement. We will establish mechanisms to ensure that administrative law enforcement aligns with criminal justice and collaborates with public interest litigation led by prosecutorial authorities to fully leverage the role of judicial oversight. Through strengthened collaborative regulation, we will ensure enterprises fulfill their responsibilities in soil and water conservation. Thank you.
The report to the 20th CPC National Congress made the deployment to optimize the layout, structure, functions, and system integration of infrastructure with the aim of constructing a modern infrastructure system. In line with this deployment, how is the water conservancy infrastructure being developed? Could you shed light on the progress made to date and the considerations for the next steps? Thank you.
Thank you for your question. Water conservancy is a vital component of the modern infrastructure system. The MWR adheres to a systematic planning approach, considering the short-term, medium-term, and long-term perspectives. We have accelerated efforts to optimize the layout, structure, functions, and system integration of water conservancy infrastructure, striking a balance between existing infrastructure and new developments to enhance network efficiency.
In terms of the layout, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the Outline of National Water Network Construction Plan, making top-level designs and strategic deployments on the national water network based on overall and spatially balanced allocations of water resources in drainage basins. Following the requirements of the guideline, the MWR has done the following work alongside related departments and local governments. First, we have actively promoted the revision of the master plan for the South-to-North Water Diversion Project and expedited the improvement of the core framework and vital arteries of the national water network. Second, we have initiated the planning for regional water networks and aim to complete the formulation and approval of provincial-level water network plans this year. We will design a sound layout for water networks at the provincial, municipal, and county levels and establish a holistic national water network step by step. Third, we have begun to revise the flood-prevention plans for the drainage basins of China's seven major river basins, aiming to foster a new landscape in drainage basin flood prevention and disaster mitigation.
In terms of the structure, we have optimized the water network structure with a focus on building connections, improving the network, and strengthening links based on the three elements of "backbones, links, and knots." First, we have strived to build the backbones of the national water network. On the basis of the main streams of large rivers as well as major rivers and lakes, we have accelerated the planning and construction of a number of major water diversion projects represented by the eastern, central, and western routes of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project. We have also worked to make sure the dykes along the main streams of large rivers meet standards. Second, we have worked to expand the links of the national water network. We have proactively advanced the construction of a number of key water network projects at the provincial level, including the second phase of the central Yunnan water diversion project, the water conservancy project that diverts the Dadu River into the Minjiang River in Sichuan, and the water resource allocation project in diverting water from the Yellow River to Xining in Qinghai. Through these projects, we aim to realize the interconnectivity of critical water resource allocation projects at the national, regional, and provincial levels, improve the water networks across the provincial, municipal, and county levels, and develop a water network system featuring integration and interconnectivity between urban and rural areas. Third, we have made efforts to fasten the knots woven into the national water network. We have moved faster to implement a group of water conservancy and key water source projects, such as the Guxian water control project and Heishan Gorge water conservancy project along the Yellow River, the Yangxi water conservancy project in Guangxi, and the Huatanzi reservoir project in Guizhou, as well as sped up the building of key floods storage areas.
In terms of the function, after taking into consideration multiple functions, including flood prevention, water supply, irrigation, shipping, power generation, and ecological conservation, we have strengthened the joint management of water projects in drainage basins to better regulate water resources. We have leveraged the functions of the projects in a holistic manner to systematically address the issues concerning water resources, ecosystem, environment, and disasters so as to secure economic, social, ecological, and safety benefits simultaneously.
In terms of system integration, we have synchronized the building of digital twin basins, digital twin water networks, and digital twin water projects, enhanced the forecasting, early warning, preview, and contingency plan functions of water network regulation and operation management so as to render the construction, operation, and regulation of water networks more digitalized, internet-based, and intelligent.
Going forward, we will vigorously implement key national water network projects, improve flood prevention projects in drainage basins, and restore the ecological environment of rivers and lakes at a faster pace. We will also promote the digital twin water projects. We will introduce and upgrade water-saving systems and policies, strengthen the management of water conservancy systems and mechanisms under the rule of law, and promote the high-quality development of water resources in the new development stage so as to ensure water security for advancing a Chinese path to modernization. Thank you.
Rural water supply affects the work and life of hundreds of millions of rural residents. What are the developments in the construction of China's rural water supply projects and management systems? What measures has the MWR taken to boost rural water supplies? Thank you.
As you said, rural water supply affects the work and life of hundreds of millions of rural residents. Knowing well that ensuring rural drinking water safety is a key indicator of consolidating our achievements in poverty alleviation and advancing rural revitalization, the MWR has taken a variety of measures to ensure rural drinking water safety at a faster pace.
First, we have prioritized advancing the integration of urban and rural water supplies and a large-scale construction of centralized water supply. In accordance with the principle of "building large networks, integrating the medium-sized, and reducing the small-sized," we have promoted the interconnection and integration of urban and rural water supply networks, connected, expanded, and integrated networks where possible, and facilitated the realization of unified water sources, networks, quality standards, services, and regulations for urban and rural water supplies in areas with suitable conditions. We have leveraged the roles of the government and market in tandem and raised funds through multiple channels, including local government special bonds, bank loans, and private capital, while increasing government investments. In the first eight months of the year, investments in rural water supply projects among all localities reached 98.88 billion yuan, including 38.33 billion yuan in special local government bonds, 27.35 billion yuan in bank loans, 15.85 billion yuan in private capital, and 17.35 billion yuan in government funds at all levels. A total of 73.65 billion yuan has been used to launch the construction of 15,692 rural water supply projects, with 9,029 having been completed, improving water supplies for 38.25 million rural residents.
Second, we have further carried out a special campaign to improve the quality of water supplied in rural areas. As we all know, the health standard for drinking water was implemented on April 1 of this year. That is a new standard. In accordance with the new standard, we have improved the implementation plan and worked with ecology, environment, and health departments to accelerate the designation of protection zones or areas for sources of rural drinking water. We have provided water purification and disinfection equipment, regulated the daily inspection of the water quality from water supply units and the patrol of the water quality by regional water quality testing centers, and moved faster to build and improve a system to ensure source-to-tap water quality.
Third, we have enhanced the capacity of small and miscellaneous water supply projects in securing the supply of drinking water. We have promoted the standardized construction and renovation of small water supply projects in accordance with local conditions in places where people have no access to centralized water supply networks to reduce the number of people who get their drinking water from water cellars and tanks in rural areas. We have intensified the comprehensive investigation and dynamic monitoring of rural drinking water conditions and discovered and handled problems in rural water supplies as soon as they emerged to ensure problems are solved in a timely manner. We have spared no effort to maintain drinking water safety in the fight against floods and droughts to ensure the basic drinking water needs of the people. We have worked with the Ministry of Finance to allocate 3 billion yuan in subsidies from the central government to renovate and maintain rural water supply projects, with 4.25 billion yuan allocated from local governments for the renovation and maintenance of rural water supply projects. Over 68,000 rural water supply projects have been renovated and maintained this year, providing services for 146 million people in rural areas.
Fourth, we have sped up advancing the specialized management and maintenance of rural water supply projects. We have actively taken steps to advance the unified management of water supplies within counties or regions. Water supply projects with a daily supply of over 1,000 tons of water to more than 10,000 people, and projects with a daily supply to over 1,000 people have adopted commercialized and specialized management systems. We entrust small projects to specialized companies for unified and improved management. We have enhanced the standardized management of centralized rural water supply projects and advanced the construction of digital twin systems for rural water supply projects. We have improved the mechanism for the setting and charging of water prices to ensure the long-term operation of rural water supply projects. So far, a total of 6.78 million rural water supply projects have been established, serving 870 million people. Tap water coverage in rural areas has reached 88%, and the proportion of rural population covered by urban-rural integration and large-scale water supply projects stands at 57%. Thank you.
Phoenix Satellite Television:
The law on the conservation of the Yellow River was passed at the standing committee session of the National People's Congress on Oct. 30, 2022 and took effect on April 1 of this year. It has become a new milestone in the protection and governance of the Yellow River. What measures will be taken by the MWR next to advance relevant work? Thank you.
The promulgation of the law on the conservation of the Yellow River provides legal protection to promote ecological conservation and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin. The MWR will resolutely perform duties in accordance with the law and work on the six aspects to ensure the implementation of the law on the conservation of the Yellow River.
First, we will give priority to the development of supporting institutions. We will review the requirements concerning the development of supporting institutions, speed up developing relevant supporting institutions, improve the system of institutions and standards for water conservancy in the Yellow River basin, and advance the orderly linking up, coordination, and unification of laws, institutions, and rules.
Second, we will improve the water conservancy planning system for the protection and management of the Yellow River. We will work to review the implementation of and revise plans concerning the Yellow River basin and give play to the guiding and binding role of plans. At present, we have approved and implemented the plan for the protection and utilization of important river courses and shorelines and initiated the revision of the plan for flood prevention in the Yellow River basin across the board.
Third, we will enhance security in water and sediment regulation and flood prevention of the Yellow River. We will improve the water and sediment regulation system and accelerate the establishment of a system of flood prevention projects in the Yellow River basin, mainly consisting of reservoirs, river courses, embankments, and flood storage and detention space. We will move faster to initiate and construct flood-control reservoir projects and develop flood prevention projects in the lower reach of the Yellow River and ensure the embankments in its upper reach meet standards. We will improve the plan for water and sediment regulation in the Yellow River basin and enhance the unified coordination and management within the basin.
Fourth, we will promote the economical and intensive use of water resources in the Yellow River basin. We will uphold the guideline of "prioritizing water conservation," impose rigid constraints on water resources, control both the amount and intensity of water withdrawal and use, and strictly implement water resource assessments and the permit system for water withdrawal to make solid progress in the battle to further save water in the Yellow River basin.
Fifth, we will strengthen the conservation and restoration of water ecosystems in the Yellow River basin. We will enhance the management and control of the ecological flow and water level of the Yellow River's mainstream and tributaries. We will focus on the prevention and control of soil erosion in key areas, tighten the regulation of human-induced soil erosion, and continue to take comprehensive measures to control the over-abstraction of groundwater.
Sixth, we will improve our capacity and level of river basin management. We will establish and improve joint meeting mechanisms for river and lake chiefs at the provincial level. We will step up collective law enforcement, enhance the development of mechanisms for joint case handling, clue transfer, and coordination across river basins, and continue to make law enforcement more effective. We will work with the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Ministry of Public Security, and the Ministry of Justice to launch a special law enforcement campaign to protect the security of rivers and lakes. We will collaborate with the Supreme People's Procuratorate to initiate a special campaign to protect water resources in the Yellow River basin, build a coordination platform for procuratorial public-interest litigation in the basin, and take practical measures to improve the governance and management capacities of the river basin. Thank you.
Thanks to all the speakers and friends from the media. Today's briefing is hereby concluded. See you.