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China opens taps for water conservation funding

Updated: Apr 1,2015 9:52 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING — China plans to build 27 major water conservation projects in 2015, and would prefer them to be built and operated with private funding, senior officials said on March 31.

“The water conservation projects will help expand China’s domestic demand and support economic growth,” Jiao Yong, deputy head of the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR), said at a press conference.

The amount of investment in major water conservation will be increased from last year’s 488 billion yuan ($79.74 billio), Jiao said.

Private capital’s involvement will be prioritized, according to a document jointly released by the National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Finance and the MWR on March 31.

The ministries opened the threshold of these projects to all kinds of qualified bodies including state-owned enterprises, private and foreign enterprises.

During a visit to the MWR in November, Premier Li Keqiang urged the government to accelerate 172 water conservation programs that have strong economic and social importance.

Currently, 57 water projects are under construction.

These projects, including the 27 new ones planned this year, will be mostly located in China’s central and western regions, focusing on agricultural water conservation, water diversion, water source management and protection, as well as large-scale irrigation.

China is also planning to formulate national pilot water projects to test new techniques in this field.

Plagued by uneven water resources, floods and droughts, China’s water resources per capita are only around 25 percent of the global average.