China / Environment

Hebei closes thousands of wells to tackle subsidence

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-08-31 16:06
SHIJIAZHUANG - Hebei Province in north China plans to close more than 2,000 wells this year to address subsidence and shrinking wetlands due to long-term overexploitation of groundwater.

According to the province's recently unveiled treatment plan, 52 counties and cities have been added to the overexploitation treatment project, bringing the total number of pilot counties or cities to 115, covering all seven major funnel areas.

Due to excessive use of groundwater, the amount of overexploited groundwater and the area of overexploited regions both account for one third of the country's total, leading to problems such as falling groundwater levels, subsidence and shrinking wetlands.

By the end of this year, 570 wells will be filled and 1,680 others will be sealed in cities with access to water from the Hangjiang River through the middle route of the south-to-north water diversion project.

From 2014 to 2015, more than 4,000 irrigation wells were filled or suspended. The province plans to close another 2,084 wells in two to three years.

The treatment plan for this year is backed by 8.7 billion yuan (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) in funding, including 7.1 billion yuan from the central budget.

Hebei will cut winter wheat cultivation in overexploited areas and offer subsidies to farmers who take water-saving measures, such as planting drought-resistant wheat varieties.

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