Home -  Press Room - 
SCIO press conference on water management and national water security

China.org.cn | September 25, 2023



Despite existing mitigation efforts, China was struck by severe flooding again this year. Climate change promises to bring more extreme weather in years to come. What new and enhanced measures is China taking to protect its people and prevent flood damage to its economy, including sectors like agriculture? Thank you.

Li Guoying: 

Thank you for your attention to China's flood disaster prevention. This year, the Haihe River Basin experienced the worst basin-wide flood since 1963. I would like to invite Mr. Yao to answer your question.

Yao Wenguang: 

Thank you for your question. Since ancient times, China's fundamental water situation has been marked by summer floods and winter droughts, with a scarcity of water in the north and an abundance in the south. Water resources are extremely unevenly distributed, both temporally and spatially. Water-related disasters, such as floods and droughts, are frequent. As a result, the development of water conservancy and flood disaster prevention has always been crucial for the country's security and stability. In addressing various flood and drought disasters, we have consistently adopted a people-centered development philosophy and implemented a range of preventative measures. In recent years, we have managed challenges like autumn floods on a rarely seen scale of the Yellow River since 1949 and the most severe meteorological and hydrological drought in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River since 1961. Especially during this year's flood season, when faced with the worst flood in the Haihe River Basin since 1963, the water conservancy departments prioritized the safety of people, emphasizing the importance of life and property. Aiming for "no casualties, no dam collapses, no breaches in vital embankments, and no impact on key infrastructure," we have fulfilled our responsibilities and carried out preventive measures with meticulous care. Through these efforts, we have achieved commendable results in disaster prevention and mitigation.

First, we have carried out consultations and deployments in advance. During the occurrence and development of floods and the process of prevention and protection, consultation opinions and dispatch instructions are sent directly to the frontline of flood control and drought relief. This year, in response to the extremely severe flooding in the Haihe River Basin, the MWR activated a level-III emergency response to flooding in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region on July 28, and upgraded it to level II on July 30. At the same time, 26 working groups were dispatched to the frontline to guide flood control in the region.

Second, we have strengthened measures for forecasting, early warning, and emergency planning and preparedness. We have increased the frequency of monitoring, set up emergency monitoring sections in central areas of heavy rain and vital flood discharge channels, and delivered important information directly to the front line. At the same time, we have released flood forecasts on a rolling basis, issued river flood warnings to the public, and promptly sent forecasts to the relevant provinces, cities, and units. This year, in response to the extremely severe flooding in the Haihe River Basin, water conservancy departments in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi, and Henan issued a total of 11,900 county-level flash flood warnings, alerting local governments to evacuate 139,800 people from risk areas. Authorities in Hebei, Tianjin, and Henan also activated contingency plans to relocate nearly 1 million people from flood storage and retention areas in advance.

Third, we have meticulously managed our water projects. Guided by the principle of being systematic, scientific, orderly and safe, we've regulated water projects scientifically. To address the rare autumn floods in the Yellow River in 2021, we precisely deployed the Xiaolangdi, Sanmenxia, Wanjiazhai, Guxian, and Hekou reservoirs, among others. By consistently controlling the flow at the Huayuankou hydrology station to around 4,800 cubic meters per second, we effectively avoided the need for relocating 1.4 million people in the downstream area and saved a total of 3.99 million mu of farmland. To counter the unusual drought in the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River in 2022, we organized and implemented two rounds of joint reservoir group water supply operations within the Yangtze River basin. We accurately deployed a total of 75 reservoirs, including those within the upper reach of the Yangtze River, centered around the Sanxia Reservoir, as well as the Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake. As a result, a total of 6.16 billion cubic meters of water was supplied downstream, ensuring irrigation for around 183 million mu of autumn grain crops along the water supply line. In dealing with this year's heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin, we scientifically managed 84 large and medium-sized reservoirs in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Additionally, we utilized eight flood storage and detention areas to divert, store, and control the floods, giving full play to the role of the river basin flood control engineering system in flood control and disaster relief. This proactive approach minimized the damage caused by flooding, ensuring the safety of both people's lives and their property.

Fourth, we have strengthened efforts in inspection and prevention. The water conservancy departments have made full use of technological advantages, dispatching experts to the front lines to combat floods, droughts and other dangers and to provide guidance on identifying hidden dangers and carrying out rescue operations in a scientific way. In dealing with the heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin this year, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region deployed over 220,000 inspections of dikes, addressing 131 dangerous dike and reservoir situations. Thanks to the joint efforts of multiple parties, no reservoirs or dams collapsed, no major dikes failed, and there were no mass casualties during the heavy floods in the Haihe River Basin.

For the next steps, the MWR will collaborate with relevant departments and local governments to step up efforts for the improvement of the river basin flood control engineering system. We will expedite the construction of flood detention reservoirs as well as embankments and flood control facilities in flood storage and detention areas, bolster the management of key river channels, and advance the management of small and medium-sized rivers and mountain flood ditches. Concurrently, we'll hasten the establishment of "three lines of defense" for rainwater monitoring and forecasting. We will advance the construction of digital twins for river basins and the capacity building for forecasting, early warning, and emergency planning and preparedness. We will improve systems, mechanisms, and law-based governance in this regard, strengthen the management of flood storage and detention areas and the spatial control of river channels, and comprehensively enhance our capacity to prevent floods, droughts and other disasters. Thank you.

<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  >