REUTERS

BEIJING-China plans to spend 2 trillion yuan, or $330 billion, on an action plan to tackle pollution of its scarce water resources, state media said on Tuesday.

China has a fifth of the world’s population but just 7 percent of its water resources, and the situation is especially precarious in its parched north, where some regions have less water per capita than the Middle East. The plan is still being finalised but the budget has been set, exceeding the 1.7 trillion yuan ($277 billion) China plans to spend battling its more-publicised air pollution crisis, the China Securities Journal reported, citing the Ministry of Environmental Protection. It will aim to improve the quality of China’s water by 30 to 50 percent, the paper said, through investments in technologies such as waste water treatment, recycling and membrane technology. The paper did not say how the funds would be raised, when the plan would take effect, or what timeframe was visualised, however. Groundwater resources are heavily polluted, threatening access to drinking water, Environment Minister Zhai Qing told a news conference in the capital, Beijing, last week.

According to government data, a 2012 survey of 5,000 groundwater check points found 57.3 percent of samples to be heavily polluted. China emits around 24m tonnes of COD, or chemical oxygen demand, a measure of organic matter in waste water, and 2.45 million tonnes of ammonia nitrogen, into its water each year, Zhai said.