November 9, 2007
The “The Law to Prevent and Treat Water Pollution (modified draft) of the People’s Republic of China” was publicized on September 5, 2007. In the just ended 10th NPC Standing Committee meeting on September 29, water pollution was placed as an issue of national survival.
The director of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Zhou Shengxian, stated that half of the cities in China have severely polluted groundwater; 300 million people in the rural areas are drinking water with safety problems. In some areas, “all the rivers have dried and all the water has been polluted.”
Of China’s seven major river systems, the Songhua River, the Yellow River, and the Huai River are moderately polluted; while the Liao River and the Hai River are severely polluted. Water pollution has become a general problem.
According to a field visit by the NPC Environmental Committee in July, the speed of treating polluted water is far slower than the speed of pollution.
“When I was in my childhood, the water in the Yangtze River was clear and tasted sweet. Now it is not good,” a committee member who grew up on the riverside said. “We found that there are lots of floating things in the Three Gorges Dam, people can even stand on them.”
Economic development and environmental protection is a dilemma for local governments. A committee member, Jia Zhijie, said that Western countries had the lesson of pollution then treatment, whereas “we not only could not avoid the mistake, but have made a bigger mistake.”
“The pollution is a result of profit pursuing. However, the cost to treat the water pollution will be more than a dozen times the profit we have gained,” Jia also stated. “For example, to hold the World Horticultural Expo in Yunan, large amounts of money was spent to treat the Dianchi Lake pollution. However, 5 billion yuan was not enough, now they are asking for another 10 billion, which, however, still does not guarantee to completely treat the pollution.”
According to the statistics of the State Environmental Protection Administration, in 2005 there were 1406 accidents of environmental pollution in China, of which 693 (49.2%) were water pollution.
Water pollution accidents are usually not reported in a timely manner. For example, pollution in the Songhua River in 2005 was not publicized during the first 8 days.
The local governments usually push away their responsibilities. They often say that “the pollution came from upstream.”
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Categories: Beijing Water
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