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China to enhance reservoir safety

Updated: Apr 27,2021 19:34

Greater efforts will be made to protect reservoirs during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) period, with support from safety assessments and financial funds, according to a State Council Information Office news briefing.

Officials present answered questions surrounding a State Council guideline on strengthening hazard removal, reinforcement, operation, management and maintenance of reservoirs.

China has more than 98,000 reservoirs. In recent years, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Finance have allocated 155.3 billion yuan ($23.95 billion) from the central budget to eliminate hazards and reinforce over 2,800 large and medium-sized reservoirs and 69,000 small ones, said Wei Shanzhong, vice-minister of water resources.

Reservoir safety and reinforcement has attracted much attention from the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, Wei said.

To keep reservoirs running safely and playing a role in disaster prevention and reduction during the flood season this year, efforts will be made to enforce accountability for their management, make better preparations for different situations, and improve forecasts and early warnings against floods, Wei said.

Also, reservoirs exposed to hazards will be subject to water storage restrictions and joint scheduling with well-functioning ones, the vice-minister added.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the Ministry of Water Resources will accelerate moves to conduct safety assessments on reservoirs, as well as hazard removal and reinforcement, Wei said.

By the end of 2025, the goal is to complete such assessments on over 30,000 reservoirs on the wait list, and establish regular mechanisms for timely assessment, hazard removal and reinforcement, Wei said.

The central budget has been allocated for hazard removal, reinforcement and maintenance of small reservoirs, and financial support will continue, according to Jiang Dayu from the Ministry of Finance.

By the end of last year, 97.2 billion yuan had been invested to remove hazards from 69,000 small reservoirs and reinforce them, and another 3.25 billion yuan was used for their maintenance from 2019 to 2020. The investments into small reservoirs suffering hazards will amount to 24.5 billion yuan during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, Jiang said.

Among them, 12.5 billion yuan is planned for hazard removal and reinforcement, and the remaining 12 billion yuan for maintenance, Jiang added.

Jiang stressed clarifying the responsibilities of local governments for expenditures channeled into small reservoirs, with support in raising funds through bond issuance and innovative sources.

For large and medium-sized reservoirs, NDRC will also funnel more funds from the central budget over five years, according to Wu Xiao, director of the Department of Rural Economy of NDRC.

Among the funds, 4 billion yuan is initially planned for 2021, and 3.4 billion yuan has been arranged for the first batch of investment projects, the NDRC official said.

Investment policies will be improved to support hazard removal and reinforcement of large and medium-sized reservoirs, varying among eastern, central and western regions, Wu said, promising orderly project implementation, as well as greater oversight and guidance.