Business / Green China

China issues decree on urban sewage treatment

(Xinhua) Updated: 2013-10-17 09:53

BEIJING -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has signed a decree on urban drainage and sewage treatment, as flooding and water pollution is becoming a bigger problem at a time of rapid urbanization.

The decree, which will come into effect on Jan 1, 2014, stipulates that all governments above the county level must include the building and management of urban drainage and sewage treatment facilities into their economic and social development plan.

The decree provides that cities and towns must plan their drainage and sewage treatment systems in accordance with their local climate, geography,and their economic and social development level.

The decree says governments must encourage private investment in the building and operation of drainage and sewage treatment facilities such as in the form of franchise or government procurement of private services.

As a crucial but "invisible" infrastructure, drainage system is often ignored by China's urban governments in their pursuit of economic growth, resulting in frequent reports of flooding even in the case of moderate rains.

In July this year, heavy rains pounded Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province. After the drainage system failed, flooding crippled the transportation network of the city -- a well-known tourist destination known as "the city of eternal spring."

In July last year, the deadliest downpour in six decades occurred in Beijing, killing at least 77 people and paralyzing the city.

According to the decree, newly-developed city areas must have separate drainage systems for sewage and rain water, so that rain water can be collected for irrigation and other purposes while sewage can be treated for reuse in manufacturing, urban landscaping, road sweeping, car washing and construction sites.

Polluted water should be only discharged with a license for industries, such as manufacturing, construction, catering and medical care.

Governments must set up an early an warning system for urban flooding and properly use local rivers, reservoirs and lakes in flood control, the decree says.

According to the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, some sewage users have discharged excessively polluted water, and some sewage treatment plants were not run as designed.

In September, a guideline on improving the construction of city infrastructure, issued by the State Council, said that the consumption of recycled water in cities and towns should be increased by 20 percent.

Also in September, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said five districts and counties had failed to meet the standards set in a five-year water pollution control guideline released in 2012.

The ministry said that water pollution situation in China remains "grave." The implementation of some pollution control projects was not efficient enough and there was widespread pollution in rural areas.

The Chinese government will allocate 500 billion yuan ($81.94 billion) for prevention and control of water pollution in major drainage areas from 2011 to 2015, up from 300 billion yuan for the previous five-year period, the ministry said.

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