China to Boost Water Conservation Projects

by China Water Risk 22 May, 2014

22 May, 2014 – The State Council has decided to accelerate the construction of water conservation projects. 172 water projects focused in the central and western regions will be launched before 2020. They will include: water transfer, reservoirs and irrigation schemes. The aim is to increase water supply by 80bn m³per year.

These projects will also save 26bn m³ of water in agricultural production per year and expand irrigation areas of over 78mn mu (5.2 million hectares).

“Not executing this plan is really not an option. China is trying to slow down the rate of growth in water consumption (by setting caps), but even in order to meet these caps they have to increase the supply,” said China Water Risk’s Debra Tan in a Reuters article on the announcement.

Total Water Use

With the above measures China is likely to meet its water use targets.

  • 2012 water use: 614bn m³
  • 2015 water supply cap: 635bn m³
  • 2020 water supply cap: 670bn m³
  • 2030 water supply cap: 700bn m³

See more on this in the Big Picture.


In 2012, agricultural water use was 388bn m³. State Council has previously announced that this should be reduced to 360bn m³ by 2025. In 2011 the government also set irrigation coefficients for 2015, 2020 and 2030.

Tan, again in the Reuters article, “Water savings in agriculture, the largest water user, are a must,” adding the irrigation scheme was the key element of the plan. More on this view on water & agriculture in The State of China’s Agriculture“. 

See the full announcement here.