BEIJING, PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sponsored a 2-day forum in Beijing to discuss various innovative measures and technologies to protect groundwater resources in the country.
Depletion of groundwater resources is a major concern in many parts of the PRC, particularly in the drier northern regions. In many rural areas, most of the groundwater is used for agricultural purposes and extensive use has caused groundwater tables to fall in more than 100 areas, covering around 150,000 square kilometers. In the Northern China Plain alone, the area of groundwater depletion already extends to 70,000 square kilometers.
“The consequences of the current unsustainable use of groundwater are serious,” said Frank Radstake, an ADB Principal Environment Specialist. “With the depletion of groundwater resources, pumping costs for local farmers are increasing, domestic drinking water supplies are getting polluted, and agricultural production is at risk.”
“In some areas, agricultural production has already stopped due to lack of water sources while, many buildings are damaged due to over-extraction of water from the ground,” he said.
The PRC is determined to develop integrated approaches to protect and restore over-exploited groundwater areas.
In October 2011, the State Council approved the National Plan to Protect the Safety of Groundwater Resources (2011–2020). This is an important step to mobilize additional financial resources to ensure the protection of groundwater resources. In April 2015, the government announced an action plan that includes a list of measures to tackle water pollution, such as measures to reduce groundwater overdraft, and to control groundwater pollution by 2020.
As a long-term development partner in the region, ADB is committed to helping the PRC government tackle this serious challenge and is supporting the Shandong Water Resources Department to prepare investment projects in various cities to protect groundwater resources. Innovative approaches that are being proposed include increasing groundwater recharge, and the piloting of smart greenhouses to harvest and store rain water, as an alternative source of water supply. The Shandong government is also working on various water resources policy and regulation changes, including the introduction of groundwater trading.
The forum was jointly organized by the Shandong Water Resources Department and the China University of Geosciences on 30 and 31 July 2015, with over 40 Chinese and international experts in attendance.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members—48 from the region. In 2014, ADB assistance totaled $22.9 billion, including cofinancing of $9.2 billion.