September 13, 2006
It is not realistic to alleviate China’s water shortage in cities by digging channels to divert water from other regions, Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing told a meeting in Beijing. ‘That would disturb the natural water cycle.’
China’s cities must recycle more waste water and adopt market-oriented water reforms, Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing said yesterday. “The nation faces the toughest challenge in the world over water resources, which on the whole are polluted,” Qiu told a mayor’s forum on the sidelines of the ongoing fifth World Water Congress and Exhibition in Beijing. It is not realistic to alleviate China’s water shortage in cities simply by digging channels to divert water from other regions, Qiu said. “That would disturb the natural water cycle.” He emphasized that people who live upstream need to respect the needs of people downstream, and increase the use of properly recycled waste water. About 20 billion tons of industrial and residential waste water are released into rivers and lakes annually in China’s cities, and 90 per cent of the urban sections of rivers are polluted, Qiu said. Furthermore, Qiu recommended that the nation abandon administrative orders, which are left over from the planned-economy era, to run water systems in many cities. Instead, he said, the cities should use a combination of regulations and market-economy methods. At the end of last year 278 of China’s 662 major cities had no sewage treatment plants, Qiu said. Many of the plants are not fully operational because they have not been able to attract funding through competitive bidding.
In recent years, many cities have spent huge amounts of money to treat waste water, to clean up rivers and to divert water, Qiu said, “but the urban water environment in these cities has not changed fundamentally.” “We must change the traditional economic development mode of ‘polluting first and then cleaning up,'” he said. “The key is to change the development philosophy.” With a huge population and vast areas of pollution, China cannot copy foreign methods in dealing with waste water, Tsinghua University professor Qian Yi said in an interview. Instead, the nation needs “higher efficiency and lower cost technology,” she said, especially concerning the quality of drinking water. A total of 35 cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai, received awards from the ministry for their good work in curbing water pollution.
Categories: Beijing Water