Thirty of China’s thirty-two largest cities and four hundred of its six hundred largest municipalities face serious water shortages and deterioration of water quality. In order to produce one unit of GDP, China uses seven to fifteen times more water than OECD countries. Water prices in China do not reflect the reality of supply and demand. China’s average water price is 70% to 80% below water prices in countries with no water shortage.
China’s water challenge is not about infrastructure or technology. Professor Hardiman states that the solution needed is coordination and accountability between responsible ministries, agencies and provinces. He compares China’s current weak cohesion to pre-EU Europe, where multiple countries with different legal systems shared the same water resources. He suggests that the only viable solution is for the State Council to empower a committee with the authority to coordinate and implement effective water management nationally, provincially, and locally.