Promulgation of Groundwater Management Regulation under the Climate Change Scenario in Shaanxi Province

In Shaanxi Province, groundwater is a critical source of fresh drinking water for the local citizens and also supplying for the irrigated agriculture. Groundwater is also important in sustaining streams, lakes, wetlands and associated ecosystems. In the meantime, climate change affects ground water resources and is closely linked to other global change drivers, including population growth, urbanization and land-use change, coupled with other socio-economic trends.

The impact of global changes on groundwater is a complex function that depends on climate change and variability, topography, aquifer characteristics, vegetation dynamics and human activities.

Considering the lack of factor of climate change scenario, GWP China Shaanxi has conducted a series of studies to analyze the important role of groundwater in water resources allocation, proposed the establishment of the legislation system and provided policy recommendations to the decision makers to strengthen the management of groundwater in Shaanxi Province.  The study report was submitted to the Provincial Government on March 27, 2013 which played an important role in the practice of flood and drought control in Shaanxi Province based upon the analysis on the local water situation as well as integrated management of groundwater. As advocated by GWP China Shaanxi and  encouraged by the study report, Shaanxi Provincial Groundwater Monitoring and Management Bureau invited GWP China Shaanxi to investigate key areas of  exploiting groundwater in Shaanxi Province and collected recommendations of water sectors at local level in June,2013. Rather than having worked behind the closed door, GWP China Shaanxi convinced Provincial Legislative Department to visit neighboring provinces to learn experiences and lessons of legislation development on groundwater management in October, 2013. The first draft of regulations on groundwater management in Shaanxi Province was completed in October 2013. The process of legislative management of groundwater in Shaanxi Province was actually promoted after a year of work by GWP China Shaanxi in cooperation with the provincial water resources departments at different levels and it planned to make further efforts to facilitate the related departments to revise the draft in 2014. The draft was submitted to the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Congress  for discussions and finally promulgated on November 19, 2015, transforming into the Regulation on Groundwater of Shaanxi Province with legal validity.

(The Regulation has been published on the official website of Shaanxi Provincial Government from January, 2016)

The Regulation has gone into effect from 1st April, 2016. On 22 April, 2016, the Shaanxi Provincial People’s Congress, jointly with Shaanxi Provincial Water Resources Department, settled the development strategy and aims of implementing the Regulations at all levels. GWP China Shaanxi was involved into the process. And later together with Shaanxi Provincial Water Resources Department, they organized a thematic training workshop in May 2016 helping trainees set up a legal framework of implementing the Regulations at provincial, city and county levels. The training covered leaders and decision-makers of related authorities at all levels of Shaanxi Province. From July to August, 2016, GWP China Shaanxi also worked with Shaanxi Provincial Water Resources Department as well as the Publicizing Center, organizing ‘Contest of Knowledge of Regulations on Groundwater” via public media platforms. It attracted totally 9811 participants. The media and communities also made various dissemination activities for the Regulation during the contest campaign.

According to official statistics of Shaanxi Provincial Department of Water Resources, the groundwater resource in Province totals 13.76 billion m3 and 30% of which is shallow allowable withdrawal, around 4.36 billion m3. The Regulation, along with the National Groundwater Exploration Monitoring System, has set up 69 monitoring stations and upgraded 32 stations in province. The over-exploited area has been controlled. By 2020, it’s expected to reduce over-exploited groundwater area by 120 km2, accounting for 8.5% of the total over-exploitation (1427 km2). The average allowable withdrawal will be 452 million m3 at maximum, cutting down 30.5% per annum from the current.

The Regulation and the activities carried out in 2016 have greatly helped raise the awareness of the protection and saving of the groundwater resources and the rational exploitation and efficient use of groundwater resources in the province with short of water resources.