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Warming Takes Toll on Water Resources

China suffers from a shortfall of nearly 40 billion cubic meters of water a year, largely because of global climate change, Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei said.

"The changes have led to a combination of both frequent drought and flooding," Chen told a high-level roundtable conference on China's water resources and water environment protection on Saturday.

Chen said the figure was calculated on the country's average annual water needs in recent years.

The country's water demands are shaped by a number of factors including its massive population, a relatively small number of water resources, and disparities between relatively water rich and water poor regions.

Latest data from the ministry suggested that rainfall in northern China had decreased in recent years.

Water resources particularly in areas surrounding the Yellow River, Huaihe River, Haihe River and Liaohe River, had dropped by 12 percent.

"Seasonal water shortages in some of those areas are getting worse, seriously restricting sustainable social and economic development," the official said.

China is attempting to balance protecting its water resources and the environment with its impressive economic growth and rate of urbanization.

President Hu Jintao in his report to the opening of the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last month, urged for a more efficient approach to development, growth and consumption that was more environmentally friendly.

Under Hu's push for more "scientific development" the ministry will focus on major water issues including securing more clean drinking water, improving water conservation, water pollution prevention, restricting excessive water resources exploitation and cutting water waste.

(China Daily November 5, 2007)

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