Water P-Notes

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These practitioner notes (P-Notes) are published by the Water Sector Board of the Sustainable Development Network of the World Bank Group. P-Notes are a synopsis of larger World Bank documents in the water sector.

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    Addressing China’s Water Scarcity
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-05) Xie, Jian
    China's water resources are scarce and unevenly distributed. It has the sixth largest amount of renewable resources in the world, but a per capita availability that is only one-fourth the world average and among the lowest for a major country. The country is under serious water stress, and its problems are made more severe by the fact that resources are unevenly distributed, both spatially and temporally. Per capita water availability in northern China is less than one-fourth that in southern China, one eleventh of the world average, and less than the threshold level that defines water scarcity. A monsoonal climate also means that China is subject to frequent droughts and floods, often simultaneously in different regions, as precipitation varies greatly from year to year and season to season. The complexity of water resource management in China requires a transition from a traditional system with the government as the main decision making entity toward a modern approach that relies on a sound legal framework, effective institutional arrangements, transparent decision making and information disclosure, and active public participation. This will require that laws are straightforward and not contradictory, with mechanisms and procedures for enforcing them. It also should entail the creation of a new multi-sectoral state agency tasked with overseeing water management policy at the national level.
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    Improving the Performance of China’s Urban Water Utilities
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-06) Browder, Greg J. ; Xie, Shiqing ; Kim, Yoonhee ; Gu, Lixin ; Fan, Mingyuan ; Ehrhardt, David
    In the 1990s, China's water supply infrastructure was in a very poor state. Municipal wastewater treatment was almost nonexistent. Public utilities were inefficient. Prices for water were unsustainably low. Since then, large investments have been made in water supply and wastewater infrastructure, and tariffs for water and wastewater have increased. China's national ministries and agencies have issued directives on water pricing, utility regulation, wastewater treatment, private sector participation, and other reforms. Chinese and international companies are now active in the sector. However, many complex financial, institutional, and technical challenges lie ahead. China's water supplies are limited, its rivers are among the most polluted in the world, and its coastal waters are on the brink of ecological collapse.