Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 18

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 18 PROTECTION OF THE QUALITY AND SUPPLY OF FRESHWATER RESOURCES: APPLICATION OF INTEGRATED APPROACHES TO THE DEVELOPMENT, MANAGEMENT AND USE OF WATER RESOURCES

A) Integrated Water Resources Development and Management

The precipitation in Japan greatly differs from year to year, and season to season as well as according to region, with floods and water shortages occurring in many regions, and affecting economic and social activities. It is believed that the demand for water that comes with improvements in the standards of living and economic development will continue to increase. Meanwhile, the construction of dams and other water resource development facilities tends to be prolonged and such problems as land subsidence due to excessive pumping of ground water have resulted. Furthermore, because of the general public need for good-tasting and safe water in recent years, conserving the quality of water sources has become an important issue.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As we approached the year 2000, Japan established the National Integrated Water Resources Plan (Water Plan 2000), the basic objectives of which are the improvement of the system of the steady supply of water, the enhancement of of steady water supply capabilities during water shortages, and the formation of a new society capable of making the most of water functions. Also urgently needed for water measures over a broad area was the Basic Plan for Water Resources Development, the objective of which was to be realized by the year 2000, which covers seven river systems, including that of the Tone River. By such means, Japan is making efforts to achieve those objectives through promoting the comprehensive development and rationalized use of water resources. Japan will continue to promote various policies, including those for the development of water resources, the improvement of facilities for the supply of water, measures for erosion control and watershed management, measures for the conservation of water sources, including those for the conservation and improvement of forests, measures for the conservation of water quality, optimization of the use of ground water, and the promotion of wastewater reclamation and reuse. In so doing, Japan will establish integrated water resources development and management, by strengthening the linkages between those measures.
(2)
Japan will continue to actively promote awareness among the general public concerning water issues by conducting water-related events. It will also make efforts to further promote international cooperation, including technical and financial cooperation with developing countries, as well as exchange with international agencies, in regards to the development, use and management of water resources.

18-B) Water Resources Assessment

The necessary collection of such data as those concerning precipitation is essential to the development, use and conservation of water resources.

Presently, observation of precipitation and monitoring and measurement of the amount and quality of surface water are being conducted in Japan, and these data are being accumulated and analyzed. The results of such analyses are made available to the public, and based on these data, plans concerning water resources are established, and information is provided in regards to water shortages. Particularly, information systems regarding water shortages have been incorporated into a nationwide network and put on-line, and are effectively used for such purposes as studying measures to deal with water shortages. Also, as regards ground water, in regions where there has been remarkable trouble concerning ground water, including land subsidence due to the excessive taking of ground water, data on water level and amounts taken are being collected and analyzed, and are being used in studies on appropriate amounts of ground water to be taken.

Meanwhile, due to improved standards of living and progression in urbanization, the desire among the general public for environmental functions of water, which include water that has the qualities of "good taste," "charm" and "comfort," has increased and become more and more diversified.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Japan will make improvements in the collection and analysis of data, including monitoring and measurement of water quality, improvement of information networks, and surveys and research on the appropriate amounts of ground water to be taken.
(2)
Comprehensively assessing water resources both quantitatively and qualitatively, Japan will promote the effective use of water resources.

18-C) Protection of Water Resources, Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystems

Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities in order to protect water resources, water quality and aquatic ecosystems.

I. Protection of water resources

(1)
When promoting the development and use of water resources, Japan will make efforts to adopt necessary measures, including those for improving and managing forests in upstream areas, to enable them to effectively demonstrate their conservation- and cultivation-related functions.
(2)
Japan will appropriately manage water resources development facilities in order to maintain their functions.
(3)
Japan will promote the effective and rational use of sewage and industrial drainage. Japan will also conduct activities aimed at public awareness, including those to increase awareness in support of water conservation.
(4)
Because of the necessity of conserving ground water in response to ground water-related troubles including land subsidence due to the excessive taking of water, in addition to continuously monitoring the levels of ground water, Japan will promote the following; identification of the appropriate amounts of ground water that can be taken, the taking of surface water as an alternative, the nurturing of ground water, the securing of alternative water sources, water conservation, and the rationalization of water use.
(5)
Japan will clarify hydrologic geology and the mechanisms of ground water-related trouble in areas where ground water is used for agricultural purposes.

II. Conservation of water quality

(1)
In addition to establishing standards for maintaining desirable water quality in public water areas, based on the Basic Environment Law, and regularly conducting observation of water quality based on the Water Pollution Control Law, Japan will set effluent standards and appropriately enforce regulations based on those standards. For example, Japan will revise effluent standards in compliance with supplementary increases in health-related environmental quality standards, which were implemented in March of 1993. At the same time, Japan will also promote measures against pollutants in household effluent.
(2)
Besides making improvements in sewerage, and promoting construction of community plants, "Gappei-Shori Johkasou" and rural sewerage in farming areas in accordance with the actual conditions of regions, Japan will promote the advanced treatment of sewage in water areas which are primary for the conservation of water quality. Japan will also conduct mud dredging, the direct purification of river water and the introduction of water for purification.
(3)
Based on the Basic Policy for the Conservation of Water Quality in Lakes and Reservoirs, Japan will promote measures for the conservation of the quality of water in lakes and reservoirs throughout the nation. Also, for lakes and reservoirs provided for in the Law for Special Measures for Conservation of Lake Water Quality, Japan will promote projects, in a comprehensive and well-planned manner, to contribute to the conservation of water quality, as well as measures for dealing with the special characteristics of individual lakes and reservoirs, through such means as regulations concerning various kinds of pollution sources.
(4)
As regards dams and reservoirs, in addition to promoting various measures such as aeration for the conservation of water quality, Japan will clarify the mechanisms of water pollution which results from increases in phytoplankton, and conduct studies and surveys on such matters as measures for preventing other forms of pollution.
(5)
Japan will promote research, including that for discovering the effects of human activities on water resources, and the development of direct-purification systems for rivers, which use materials for the improvement of the environment.
(6)
Japan will continue to apply environmental impact assessment to the construction of dams which exceed a certain scale.
(7)
Based on the Water Pollution Control Law and other relevant laws, Japan will appropriately adopt measures for the regular observation of ground water quality and the prohibition of the permeation of water containing hazardous substances into ground water. Japan will also clarify the pollution mechanisms of ground water, as well as develop effective and economical purification technology.
(8)
In order to achieve and maintain environmental soil quality standards, in addition to adopting appropriate measures concerning guidance for businesses, Japan will promote the improvement of environmental quality standards for soil, as well as soil pollution control measures, including those for the establishment of remediation technology for polluted soil.

III. Protection of ecosystems

(1)
In addition to collecting basic data obtained from research regarding the distribution of freshwater fish, Japan will promote measures for the installation and improvement of fishways, the assurance of flow amounts necessary for environmental conservation, the "creation of rivers richly-endowed with nature," and the conservation of plant and animal life.
(2)
Japan will promote collection of basic knowledge and information with a view to preventing harmful effects of chemical substances, agricultural chemicals, etc. on ecosystems.
(3)
Based on the fact that Japan has recently hosted a meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention, Japan will further increase public awareness concerning the importance of wetlands. Also, in addition to conducting surveys for the collection of basic information regarding the present conditions of wetlands, Japan will promote more appropriate means of conservation, management and the wise use of wetlands, which are the habitats of animal and plant life, including waterfowl, and of rivers, lakes, marshes and swamplands which have beautiful scenery, by designating such areas as natural reserves, including those in protected forests, in national parks quasi national parks, wild bird reserves, and national forests.

18-D) Drinking-water supply and sanitation

The propagation percentage of waterworks in Japan nationwide was 94.7%, as of March 1992, and there is almost no occurrence at all of water system-related infectious diseases, such as cholera, due to unsanitary drinking water. Meanwhile, with a strong demand for the creation of a society in which the general public can realize abundance in lifestyle, and aiming to achieve standards for waterworks which are one step higher than those existing at the present time, it is necessary for Japan to improve the quality of these systems..

For this reason, striving to realize the Long-Term Objectives for the Improvement of Waterworks as We Approach the 21st Century, Japan has decided to construct "a system of waterworks of high standards," based on the basic policies established in 1991, which consist of--(i) a system of waterworks which can be used by all citizens, (ii) waterworks which can assure a very stable supply of water, and (iii) water works which ensure a supply of safe water.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
In order to eliminate the present unsteady method of water intake and to deal with the increasing demand of water, Japan will conduct the development of water resources, promote effective and rational use of water, and strengthen water conservation measures such as the spread of water saving equipment. To improve waterworks in regions that do not currently have waterworks, Japan will work toward a waterworks propagation percentage of 99%, by further promoting improvements in community waterworks and facilities for drinking-water supply.
(2)
In addition to renovating decrepit facilities, including the replacement of asbestos cement pipes, and earthquake-proofing mainstay facilities, Japan will also assure the functions of water supply bases during emergencies, including large-scale disasters.
(3)
In order to supply safe and good-tasting water, Japan will improve facilities for water purification, and in order to solve problems concerning small water receiving tanks from the perspective of sanitation, Japan will promote direct water supply to buildings that have between three and five stories.

Also, in order to enhance public sanitation as well as to conserve water quality in public water bodies that are sources of water supply, in addition to enforcing effluent control measures based on the Water Pollution Control Law, Japan will promote the appropriate treatment of wastewater and sewage from living environments and from businesses, as well as the improvement of water conservation channels. Particularly in important rivers, lakes, marshes and enclosed seas, Japan will actively promote a level of treatment which is more advanced than usual treatment methods. Japan will also promote projects for the purification of rivers where there is a remarkable level of pollution.

18-E) Water and Sustainable Urban Development

In order to ensure a steady supply of water in compliance with urban development, Japan promotes the improvement of its water resources development facilities to cope with the water shortages, which occur about once every ten years. However, because of delays in water resources development, supply has not been able to catch up with demand, and there are frequent water shortages, mainly in large urban areas that do not maintain a steady supply of water.

Although there have been great improvements in the water quality of public water bodies, including rivers, as regards health-related environmental quality standards for living environments in urban areas, improvements in water quality have continued to lag, as they have in the past, and rapid action is required for improvements in the quality of water sources as well as improvements in living environments.

Also, with a large portion of the population and property of Japan concentrated in flood plains, the frail urban structure in these areas is vulnerable to damage by flood.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
In order to achieve a good balance between the supply and demand of water, Japan will continue to promote the well-planned and anticipatory construction of water resource development facilities from a long-term perspective. Furthermore, in order to minimize the hindrance to urban functions during water shortages exceeding a designated level, while making efforts to conserve water during extraordinary water shortages, Japan will promote comprehensive measures, including those for storing water for emergency purposes, and those for the formation of a network of water supply systems.
(2)
Japan will promote comprehensive water conservation measures in a well-planned manner, including those for the improvement of sewerage, effluent regulations in public water bodies, and the purification of rivers.
(3)
Japan will conduct activities to increase the public awareness in regards to the appropriate use and conservation of water.
(4)
Besides promoting flood control measures, Japan will create appropriate systems for the hydrological cycle in urban areas by promoting the permeation of rainwater into the ground, and by the effective use of rainwater and treated sewage. It will also promote the conservation of water basins.

18-F) Water for Sustainable Food Production and Rural Development

I. Ensuring water for agriculture

Considering the food supply amount that must be ensured in the future, the amount of water that will be needed was expected to increase, if only slightly, by the year 2000, influenced by such factors as multiple uses of rice fields and increasing use of irrigation facilities.

Under these circumstances, Japan will realize various measures in the future, placing importance in dealing with the below-mentioned items:

(1)
Because implementation of projects tends to be delayed, due to lack of suitable land for construction of water resource development facilities, and due to the difficulties of carrying out measures in water reserve areas, Japan will promote measures for the development of new water resources, and the effective use of existing agricultural water, taking into consideration the changes in the use of agricultural water.
(2)
Utilizing Japanese technology and financial resources in cooperation with developing countries, Japan will promote irrigation development as a basic condition for sustainable, highly productive agricultural development. Japan will also promote the improvement of reservoirs and the development of organizations for farmers in support of the effective use of water. It will also promote the improvement of drainage facilities for preventing salt-related damage, as well as the development of technology for underground dams for the purpose of combating desertification.

II. Water quality management

As regards the management of water quality for agricultural and rural areas, Japan will realize various measures in the future, placing importance in dealing with the below-mentioned items:

(1)
Japan is enforcing regulations on agricultural chemicals in accordance with the Agricultural Chemicals Regulation Law. Based on the environmental quality standards for public water bodies, Japan will continue to be involved in dissemination of the proper use of agricultural chemicals, and activities for determining the state of agricultural chemicals residue in water. It will adopt measures that establish standards for withholding registration of agricultural chemicals due to the threat of water pollution.
(2)
As regards fertilizers, Japan is supporting the creation of soil that does not excessively depend on fertilizers, the spread of fertilizing technology that allows a minimum amount of leeching, and the certification of environmentally friendly fertilizers. Furthermore, Japan will conduct surveys and experimentation for the establishment of new fertilizing standards for which due consideration has been given to the effects on the environment.
(3)
As regards livestock production, based on the Water Pollution Control Law and other laws, farmers are obligated to notify authorities in regards to barns and sheds that exceed a certain scale, and drainage regulations are also imposed on them. In order to appropriately treat drainage from livestock production so that it will not pollute the environment, Japan promotes such measures as the reduction of drainage amounts that result from making compost from dung, as well as the improvement of facilities for treating polluted water, and it will continue to be involved with these measures.
(4)
As regards agricultural promotion areas, in order to conserve the water quality of agricultural drainage, improve living environments, and to conserve the quality of water in public water bodies, Japan actively promotes rural sewerage projects for the treatment of sewage, and will continue to be involved in these activities.
(5)
From the perspective of conserving the quality of agricultural water, Japan actively promotes the control of water pollution, and will continue to be involved in these activities. Also, Japan conducts research in order to determine the water quality in reservoirs, as well as to enforce measures for the conservation of the water quality of rural areas, and will continue to be involved in these activities.
(6)
In order to establish technology for the purification of ground water in agricultural areas, Japan will be involved in the development of technological measures for water purification , utilizing the natural water purification functions of ecosystems.

III. Inland fisheries

As freshwater areas are important for the production of fishery resources, Japan will continue to make efforts to increase their productivity, placing importance in dealing with the below-mentioned items:

(1)
Japan conducts work for the creation of spawning grounds and places for raising juvenile fish, the installation of artificial reefs, cultivation, and the installation of fishways, from the perspective of assisting the natural environment to increase resources, and it will continuously promote improvements in habitat environments.
(2)
In addition to conducting improvements on facilities for the production and supply of seedlings, Japan will continue to actively promote measures to increase resources in the future, making efforts to stock freshwater areas with seedlings.
(3)
Japan is making efforts to improve the aquaculture of fish, making improvements in the facilities for the production and supply of seedlings. Japan also promotes research and development for the production of seedlings under artificially controlled conditions in order to diversify aquaculture species, and will continue to be involved in these activities.
(4)
Japan is promoting biological and ecological research on freshwater fish, and in the future it will constructively apply the findings of this research to maintain and increase resources.
(5)
In promoting inland aquaculture, Japan will pay due consideration to the environment through improving the facilities for the treatment of wastewater from aquaculture sites.

18-G) Impacts of Climate Change on Water Resources

It is predicted that climate change will affect water resources in a variety of ways, including changes in the supply and demand of water, the salinization of ground water due to an increase in sea level, a drop in the level of safety of water resource development facilities, including dams, due to reductions in the amount of rainfall and changes in rainfall patterns, and changes in the water quality at water sources. Taking into consideration the geographical conditions of Japan, with its steep mountains and most of its cities concentrated in coastal plain areas, there is concern that such effects will be greater in Japan than in other countries.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following measures.

(1)
As regards the rationalized development and management of water resources, as well as the conservation of these resources, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) is carried out at UNESCO, and Japan will conduct research to contribute to the IHP, including that for the management of water resources by researchers from government agencies and universities, clarification of the worldwide water balance, the effects of climate change on water resources, and the effects of human activities on water resources.
(2)
There are still uncertainties about the effects of climate change on water resources. In order to reduce these uncertainties, Japan will continue to comprehensively promote scientific surveys and research, as well as observation and monitoring, including those for assessing the effects of global warming on water balance, giving due consideration to the "Action Program to Arrest Global Warming," "Regarding the Comprehensive Promotion of Surveys and Research, and Observation and Monitoring", as well as "Technological Development for the Conservation of the Global Environment," and the "Basic Plans for Research and Development on Earth Science and Technology.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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