Water crisis needs urgent solutions
By Guan Xiaofeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-01 05:47
Vice-minister of construction has said that the country is "facing a water
crisis more severe and urgent than any other country in the world."
Speaking at the first International Conference for China Urban Water
Development Strategies, which closed yesterday in Beijing, Vice-Minister Qiu
Baoxing, said the government was to raise the cities' wastewater treatment rate
from 45.6 per cent to 60 per cent in five years, with major cities reaching 70
"We've got to solve the problem before it is too late," warned Qiu.
Qiu said China should draw lessons from developed countries, which have paid
heavy costs in tackling environmental pollution.
"We must take precautionary measures before the urban water ecosystem
collapses," Qiu said.
Qian Yi, professor of environmental engineering from Tsinghua University and
Chinese Academy of Engineering, said China's water crisis consists of two
problems: the shortage of water resources and the pollution of water.
Qian said China's present per capita water availability is 2,200 square
metres, about a quarter of the world average level. By 2030, the figure will
drop to 1,760.
In addition, among China's seven major rivers, five are seriously polluted.
The worst is the Haihe River near Beijing and Tianjin: 60 per cent of its water
falls into the lowest water quality category.
"Short-sightedness in economic development accompanied with environmental
destruction is still widespread in China," Qian said.
Qian said more than 20 per cent of the water supply in China's cities was
leaked out from water pipe networks, an intolerable waste.
Qiu said the government is carrying out a reform in the urban water industry
by introducing more market mechanisms.
At the same time, the government will strengthen its supervision on bidding,
pricing, and controlling water quality and safety.
"We have established market mechanisms in the water industry and welcome
foreign investment, which will bring us cutting-edge technologies and management
methods," Qiu said.
Qiu said the government has stepped up its efforts to save water in the past
Qiu revealed that the Ministry of Construction is now working with the
Ministry of Health to work out a new set of standards for drinking water.
(China Daily 11/01/2005 page2)