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Investment in dam safety sees increase

Updated: Dec 01,2020 08:59 AM    China Daily

China will invest around 100 billion yuan ($15.2 billion) over five years in safety reinforcement work for dams threatened by potential risks, a senior water resources official said on Nov 30.

Ye Jianchun, vice-minister of the Ministry of Water Resources, said after its annual checkup that all dams deemed risky will be repaired in the next five years to make sure they can operate safely.

The new initiative is poised to greatly intensify the nation's comprehensive capability to confront challenges posed by adverse weather patterns or seasonal floods.

The ministry will also strive to establish a long-term operation and management mechanism for dams by improving weather and hydrological forecasts and safety-monitoring equipment, he said.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the nation's top economic planner, and the Ministry of Finance have allocated 155 billion yuan in reinforcement and risk elimination work for more than 2,800 medium and large dams and more than 69,000 small dams, he said at a news conference at the State Council Information Office.

Provincial governments should shoulder the primary responsibility in the risk elimination and reinforcement work to make sure the risks can be found and resolved as early as possible, Ye said.

The ministry will guide local governments to properly use the investment to eliminate risks. It will also examine the work of the provincial regions and hold accountable those who have made slow progress, he added.

Torrential rains have triggered 21 floods this year, and a total of 4,042 medium and large dams have been used to store 178 billion cubic meters of floodwater, preventing 1,334 townships and villages from being inundated and 22.1 million people from being evacuated, Ye said, adding that the Three Gorges Dam, the nation's signature grand hydro power project, has stored 25.4 billion cubic meters of floodwater this year.

Ruan Limin, director of the department of operation management at the Ministry of Water Resources, said more than 80 percent of the dams in China were built from the 1950s to 1970s, and many of them have exceeded their designed service life.

This year, China has experienced the worst flooding it has seen since 1998, resulting in 131 major dams and 1,991 small ones being damaged and many others being categorized as risky, he said.

About 95 percent of the 98,000 dams in China are small and medium ones, and most of them are managed by authorities at the grassroots level who are sometimes incapable of handling the maintenance work, he said.

Wu Qixiu, director of the Ministry of Finance's department of agriculture and rural affairs, said the ministry has set aside special funds for the reinforcement and risk elimination of small dams, with 1.45 billion yuan being invested last year and 1.8 billion yuan this year.

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