From 9 to 10 January 2020, national working conference was convened in Beijing. Director-Generals of departments and directly subordinate institutions of Ministry of Water Resources and water departments and authorities of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities attended the conference. Mr. E Jingping, Minister of Water Resources, delivered a speech titled “Firmly Implement the Keynote for Water Development and Reform”.
In the year of 2019, remarkable achievements have been made with joint efforts made by water departments at all levels under the leadership of the State Council. Weak links of water projects realized improvement in both quality and speed, by giving full play to the pulling effect of water project investment. Annual funds for water projects totaled 726 billion yuan, reaching the highest level in history. A total of 23 new major water projects was initiated, with progress exceeding expectations.
Upgrading of structures for flood control and drought relief has been accelerated. Poverty alleviation in water sector was steadily advanced with provision of safe drinking water for 1.016 million registered poor population, and the guarantee level of water supply for 52.8 million rural people has been safeguarded. Groundwater overexploitation in North China has been contained, as the groundwater level in some areas has been recovered. Comprehensive approaches have been adopted for control of soil erosion and water loss. The level of water informatization was gradually improved. National water safety guarantee capability was further enhanced.
Despite of the above, strict supervision on the water sector was implemented in a powerful and effective way, and a pragmatic and effective water supervision system has been formed. The legal system and mechanism for supervision were improved, and special supervision and inspection of water projects were rolled out in an all-round way.
Regarding flood and drought disaster prevention, great achievements have been made in minimizing the losses caused by flood and drought disasters. Water resources management and conservation is highlighted and strengthened. Supervision of rivers and lakes was continuously reinforced, and illegal activities such as land occupation or mining in river and lake areas were rectified, with a total number of 134,000 cases. Monitoring of soil and water conservation was conducted by remote sensing. Investigation were made on 52,000 projects that have not been approved for construction. The situation of “putting more emphasis on construction than supervision” in water project construction was gradually reversed. The national mega projects such as the Three Gorges and the South-to-North Water Diversion have generated comprehensive benefits. Through unnoticed investigation and supervision, a great number of issues were identified for problem solving.
Over the past year since the implementation of the keynote for water development and reform, profound changes have taken place.
First, the general keynote focuses on making adjustment of people’s behavior and correction of mistakes, in order to make a revolutionary change of people in mind, action, methodologies and working style.
Second, the general keynote follows the principle of aiming at bringing happiness to the people with river, with strategic requirement of “emphasizing protection and focusing on governance”, and “regarding water resources as the most rigid constraint”, to promote high-quality development in the water sector, and respond to people’s desires for a better life.
Third, the general keynote highlights water governance and management mechanism, to change the situation of focusing more on engineering than laws and regulations and more on construction and less on management.
Fourth, the general keynote confirms with national strategy, provide an overall layout of water development in the long run.
Minister E Jingping highlighted that in 2020, in accordance with the requirements of high-quality development, we shall grasp the opportunity to boost and optimize investment, consolidate work on poverty alleviation, flood control, improvement of irrigation and drainage system of rural water supply, water ecological protection and restoration, and water informatization, and speed up the construction of water infrastructure.
We shall pay close attention to the four links including top-level design, preliminary work, safeguarding of funds and investment and project quality, so as to improve weak links in water development. In-depth studies shall be made on the overall layout for flood control and disaster reduction and strategic layout of water resources allocation, in order to perfect water infrastructure system.
Regarding strict supervision, we shall attach close attention to the key risks and carry out special supervision on reservoir operation, rural drinking water, river and lake management, project construction and so on, so as to maintain more stringent supervision in the water sector.
We shall highlight six major areas, including water resources, rivers and lakes, soil and water conservation, flood and drought disaster prevention, small-scale project operation, the Three Gorges and the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, to achieve better results of strict supervision.
We shall accelerate law legislation for supervision, create an effective mechanism for law enforcement, deepen reform in key areas, enhance capacity building of water sector, and realize standardization and normalization of supervision activities.