The Changing Rate of Water Use in Different Sectors and Administrative Regions

During the period 1949-2000, total annual water use in China ranged from 103.1 billion m3 to 549.8 billion m3 (Table 2), and the rate of increase was declining. It was high (5.2%) in 1949-1980, about two times the rate of increase in population growth (2.7%) for the same time period (Ke Li Dan, 2002). Since the early 1980s, China has maintained rapid economic development and has taken various important measures in water resources management, including initiating a planned water use program and a national water-saving program, reforming the water charge system, and instituting demand-oriented management for cities in north China. More importantly, China has successfully implemented the family planning program. As a result, the trend of a high increase in water use was restrained, and the average increase rate of water use during 1981-1993 dropped to 1.3%, lower than the population growth rate (1.4%) in the same time period. Since 1993, the rate of increase in water use has dropped further for a number of reasons, mainly the restructuring of the national economy, system reform, and the comprehensive water-saving activities. All these led to further declines in the increase rate: 0.8% in 1993-2000, which is much lower than the rate of population growth (1.1%).

In the same time period, the rate of increase in water use in 15 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the administration of central government reached zero growth (Table 3). This covers the developed coastal areas in the south and north and the water-scarce provinces in the north. The total water use of the country fluctuates around the mean of 550 billion m3 in the seven consecutive years from 1997 to 2003.

Table 2 Annual Water Use in China (1949-2000)

Item

Population (106)

Annual water use (109 m3) Per capita water use (m3)

Urban water supply

Industry

Agriculture

Irrigation (109m3) Forestry, fishery (109 m3) Rural water supply (109m3)

Year

1949

1959

1965

1980

550

650

740

980

103.1

204.8

274.4

443.7

187

315

370

452

0.6

1.4

1.8

6.8

0.6

0.7

0.7

5

2.4

9.6

18.1

45.7

2.3

4.7

6.6

10.3

100.1

193.8

254.5

391.2

97.1

94.6

92.7

88.2

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