April 20, 2001
… Although China has stepped up efforts to clean up its rivers and crack down on plants that pose obvious environmental safety risks, progress has stalled due to a lack of funds and professional personnel. By mid-2004, for example, a five-year cleanup plan launched by SEPA in 2001 had received only one-third of the US$7.25 billion in planned investments. China has also invested $2.4 billion since 1994 to clean up the Huai River, the country’s third largest and the primary water source for a sixth of the population. However, SEPA recently deemed the project a failure after a 2004 inspection showed that 31.5 percent of industrial polluters exceeded the maximum permitted discharge and 56.7 percent of water treatment plants were out of service. Moving forward with cleanup remains difficult because huge sums are also needed to relocate or shut down polluting plants. Pollution treatment infrastructure, another key to preventing and alleviating serious contamination, has lagged in China as well. Due to lack of funds, some 85 water treatment plants along the Huai River, slated for operation by the end of 2005, have not yet been built. Wastewater processing is ineffective at several urban wastewater treatment plants, and some are not even operating. Across China, the government is keen to attract foreign technology and innovations to build and operate new water supply and sewage projects. Official statistics show that the potential commercial opportunity from these efforts could top $37 billion. Read the full story.