China’s Ministry of Water Resources is updating its water law, with the help of a team of consultants from Mott MacDonald in the UK.

The team has a six-month commission, which has been funded by the UK’s Department for International Development. The project, which is being undertaken with the World Bank,will conclude with the presentation of a new final draft water law to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) for incorporation into the country’s legislation in July.

China’s current water law was passed in 1988. Since then, demands on the country’s water resources have increased, the economy has opened up and awareness of environmental issues has grown. The new law will reflect current thinking on integrated water resource management and demand management.

A draft review of the 1988 law began in 1994, and culminated with the completion of a draft revised version last year. The consultant team has been brought in to study the proposals, advise on the content and identify the best mechanism for implementing the new legislation in the light of international experience. It will review the existing water law and the current revised version in the light of current international best practice, technological advances and the need for improved water management, while taking into account related resources and environmental laws to identify potential areas of conflict in the new legislation. The Ministry has identified four key areas for Mott MacDonald to address: water allocation, rights and permits, river basin water management systems, water use efficiency and conservation, and the protection of water resources from pollution.

The consultant team is being led by international water lawyer Dr Radosevich, and will comprise experts in water rights and dispute resolution, social sciences, water resources and basin planning and management, and Chinese experts on water law, water quality and social science.