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New monitoring system will guarantee quality and safety

By Zheng Jinran (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-23 07:35

A new system to monitor drinking water supplies from source to household tap is to be set up to guarantee safety amid growing public concern over deteriorating quality.

Details will be included in the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan, an initiative that will be launched soon to regulate the control of pollution nationwide.

The plan will strengthen existing measures to curb pollution in rivers, lakes and underground supplies, said Chen Jining, the minister of environmental protection.

It will include details of the monitoring system and proposals to shut down companies that produce pollution near water sources.

Chen said his ministry was determined to ease public concern over water pollution at a news conference in the run-up to World Water Day, which fell on Sunday.

Water pollution has attracted growing attention in recent years. The ministry said 40 percent of the water in seven major river systems, including the Yangtze and Yellow rivers, is polluted and unsafe to drink.

It also said 59.6 percent of 4,778 stations that monitor underground water supplies had detected severe pollution by the end of 2013. Underground water is the main source of drinking water in many cities, including Beijing, where 40 percent of drinking water came from underground supplies last year.

Research into drinking water quality levels has been carried out by a number of private organizations.

Samples from 15 out of 29 cities where research was conducted met all 20 indexes used to determine the quality of water, according to a report released by the Water Safety Fund of China, a nonprofit foundation, on Jan 31. The 15 included Beijing and Shanghai. The samples from the other cities failed on at least one index.

Liu Hongqiao, a researcher from China Water Risk, an environmental NGO, said her research indicated that drinking water quality is deteriorating in both urban and rural areas.

To control pollution, the ministry plans to open up the environmental protection market to encourage more participation by the private sector, said Chen.

Total investment in this market is expected to rise to more than 8 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion), and a huge injection of private investment will be required, he said.

Companies have been urged to reduce their water consumption and reduce the discharge of waste for years, and many companies have responded to the appeals.

PepsiCo said it has made great strides in reducing water use in the direct operations, and has delivered access to safe water to over 3 million people, in conjunction with the PepsiCo Foundation and its partners.

The company's initiatives in China and other countries include water conservation, distribution and purification programs. They have helped improve water-use efficiency by 20 percent per unit in its production operations, saving nearly 14 billion liters of water in direct operations in 2012.

It will continue to provide access to safe water to an additional 3 million people over the next three years through continued partnerships with water organizations that have been operating since 2013.

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