Hebei Provincial Hydraulic Engineering Society

Interview with the Hebei Provincial Hydraulic Engineering Society.

 1.What is the vision and mission of your organization?

Hebei Provincial Hydraulic Engineering Society, as the member of Chinese Hydraulic Engineering Society and member of Scientific Society of the Hebei Province (hereinafter referred to as the "Society"), is a non-profit academic group made up of water engineers in Hebei Province at their own wills.

Our mission is to organize all members to do researches and explorations on water engineering, making academic exchanges at home and abroad. In so doing, we aim at improving the water scientific technology in Hebei Province, proposing suggestions on water construction, water management and water policies, and contributing to the flood control, water supply and water environmental safety following the arrangement of the Department of Water Resources of the Hebei Province.

Our vision is to inform every citizen of the significance of water saving and pollution control, build a water saving society and make sure the sustainable use of the water resources and water projects. We make efforts to ensure the coordinated and sustainable development of our province's economy, society and environment.

2.Why did you decide to become a GWP Partner?

In the winter of the year 2000, an academic report about GWP at a water work meeting of Hebei Province presented by Professor Ruiju Liang, the former Chair of the GWP China Technical Advisory Committee and the former President of China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, drew our attention and interest. Particularly, the concept of IWRM proposed by GWP was a new management model and idea of water management for us. We thought it was of great significance as a guideline for us to solve a series of social and environmental problems caused by the overexploitation of water resources. Thus Mr Li Zhiqiang, the former Director General of the Department of Water Resources of the Hebei Province (also the President of the Society) decided to join GWP. In 2003, GWP China Hebei was established and affiliated to the Society. Mr Wang Fengan, the Executive Deputy Secretary-General of the Society, became the Deputy Secretary-General of GWP China Hebei. This is the brief story about how and why the Society joined GWP.

3. What have you found to be the benefits of being a GWP Partner?

Having been a member of GWP and participated in all kinds of academic activities for ten years, we have gained a lot in what follows.

First of all, our guiding principle has been further clarified. With the guidance of IWRM, when dealing with water issues, we take considerations of more aspects and perspectives such as the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources, the sustainability of the ecological system, the process of maximising the economic and social welfare, the social equity as well as the discussion with all stakeholders and the involvement of the public.

Secondly, we have learned valuable empirical experiences. The ideas and experiences we got from the academic activities organized by GWP, GWP China and other provincial and river basin WPs have improved the water work in Hebei Province.

Thirdly, We have learned more ideas about the water management through the case studies in the GWP ToolBox and online communication. We have learned more about legal, administrative, economical, technical and engineering tools to manage water resources in an integrated way. In addition, we have realized the importance of letting the market forces and the public participate in the management of water resources.

Fourthly, We have organized and participated in more academic discussions. We have organized academic seminars and high-level fora in joint efforts with other organizations. The local governments, partners and related departments were invited. We discussed and proposed suggestions which are compiled into "the Scientific Workers' Advices" for references of the leaders of the province and other departments. For example, at the end of 2006, "Advices on Building a Water Compensation Mechanism and a River Basin Ecology Circle around Beijing and Tianjin", drafted on the basis of the Chengde meeting, was adopted by the Chairman of the Political Consultative Conference of the Hebei Province. It was further proposed at the China National People's Congress and National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March of 2007 and attracted much public attention. Some ministries and provinces hence formulated relevant policies to build the compensation mechanism and implement it.

Finally, our academic level has been enhanced. It is very useful to take part in more academic activities. In November of 2005, there were different understanding and arguments on "Water Law " in terms of the water resources management among different departments and organizations. Some of them gave more weight to the centralized management, some emphasized the independent management of each sector while the others stressed management at different levels. As a response to the situation, the paper "Discussion on the Centralized and Integrated Management of Water Resources " was written jointly by Mr Li Zhiqiang, Honorary President of the Society and Chair of GWP China Hebei and Mr Wei Zhimin, the Consultant of the Society and the Secretary-General of GWP China Hebei. This paper was appreciated by Professor Gao Erkun, the former Director General of the Water Resources Department of the Ministry of Water Resources and he recommended it to the magazine China Water (issue 3, 2006) to be published as a key paper.

The paper discussed the differences and the common ground of the centralized and integrated management of water resources. It put forward a development strategy of  "five unified plannings" (unified plannings of the rural and the urban, development of different regions, economic and social development, domestic development and opening up to the outside world and harmonious development of nature and human life) which follows the human centered scientific development concept. It also proposed that the integrated management of water resources can be done out of the centralized management and we should make efforts to construct "six systems" for the sustainable use of water resources. The six systems are comprised of the water management system unifying the urban and the rural, the water supply system of rational distribution, the strict and efficient water environmental protection system,the safe and reliable strategic reservation system of water, the flexible market system of water and the increasingly complete water legislation and security system. This suggestion won "the Second Prize of Academic Success of China Management Science in 30 Years Since the Reform and Opening-up".

4. What is one challenge facing the management of water resources in your area of expertise?

Hebei Province is close to two major cities, Beijing and Tianjing, with advanced economy and large populations. The water consumption has gained an increase of five times in the past 50 years while the per capita water resources is less than 300m3. The Hebei Province is a region with severe water scarcity.

Our challenges are:

  1. We are extremely short of water resources.
  2. The water pollution is still serious.
  3. The ground- water is overly exploited.
  4. Most of the rivers on plains have gone dry.
  5. The rainfall and water resources are unevenly distributed in space and time.
  6. The social and economic development and the improvement of people's lives bring forth higher demands for water resources.

5. Are there any special projects or initiatives that you would like more widely known?

We have made efforts to solve the current problems in the Hebei Province: adjust the industry structure and let the development accord to the capacity of water resources; save water, control the pollution and build a water-saving society; divert water from the Yangtze River and the Yellow River to meet the water demands; distribute water rationally and develop more water sources (work hard to implement the integrated uses of rainwater, floodwater, waste water, sea water); distribute rationally and manage strictly on total water consumption, water use efficiency and total amount of pollutant discharge; improve the legislation and enforce the monitoring; accelerate the process of coordinated management of water resources in the urban and the rural areas and push forward the implementation of other measures. During this process, we would like to get help from our partners and share experiences with them as well.