January 20, 2011 / 12:17 PM / 7 years ago

China to spend $301 billion on water projects

(Reuters) - BEIJING, Jan 20 (Reuters) - China will invest 2 trillion yuan ($303.8 billion) over the next five years to build water-related infrastructure projects and improve rural drinking water quality, state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday, citing a government official.

In 2011, Beijing will invest more than 20 billion yuan to push forward construction of key projects, Xinhua said, citing Zhou Xuewen, who is in charge of project planning with the ministry of water resources.

The investment will also go into projects to provide 60 million more people with access to safe drinking water in rural areas, Zhou said, adding that 77 percent of rural people will have access to safe drinking water by the end of the year.

In China, authorities worry that thousands of reservoirs in need of repair could threaten nearby villagers with floods should the reservoirs burst their banks.

Increasing industrial waste and sewage discharge, as well as heavy use of pesticides and fertiliser, has resulted in drinking water being contaminated in many parts of the countryside.

Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee, Editing by Daniel Magnowski

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