THE country could be facing an imminent risk of disaster from flooding, a senior official warned. Deputy Minister of Water Resources Zhang Chunyuan said sub-standard flood control measures coupled with the fact that many major rivers had not experienced high-water levels for decades posed a 'serious risk'. He said the poor flood control measures jeopardised disaster prevention abilities. Mr Zhang admitted efforts to bring small and medium-sized rivers under control had failed throughout the country. But he also said rivers had been damaged by 'human interference' which undermined the ability to control flooding. He said major rivers like the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Hai River had not experienced high water levels for many years. Last year serious floods, waterlogging, droughts, typhoons and violent tides in 21 provinces, cities and autonomous regions cost the country 170 billion yuan (about HK$156 billion). Farmlands were destroyed and grain production fell by about 12 billion kilograms. To prevent disasters this year, the Government has invested 18 billion yuan for irrigation works - 31 per cent more than last year, according to the official China News Service. The money was spent on reinforcing dykes and dams, installing new hydro-electric machines and building water supply projects.