Shenzhen in south China's Guangdong province is trying to clean up its grime by heavily penalizing industrial polluters and cracking down on illegal sewage sites.
Under a revised environmental protection law, offenders responsible for the most destructive pollution will face fines up to 3 million yuan ($440,000).
Polluters may also be penalized based on a percentage of the losses they caused.
The main polluters will be required to install online monitoring devices
or a video monitoring system to give authorities access to real-time data and images.
Green Club, a non-government environmental protection organization based in Bao'an district,Shenzhen said it welcomed the new rules and the government's greater efforts to protect the environment.
However, it would like to see the law enforced, not just passed for show.
"We hope the government can attach more importance to educating people and improving their awareness of environmental protection. People should be allowed to participate more in supervising the polluting companies, which is much better than real-time data collection," said a chairman surnamed Huang.
Meanwhile, the revised law requires the environmental authorities to track industrial polluters and make the records open to the public, which can then be used for banking credits, export, corporate credibility and raising funds from the stock markets.
Serious polluters will also be required to release updates on their pollutants and environmental protection measures every quarter to the media and neighbors.
Companies that refuse to take corrective measures can be fined up to 10,000 yuan per day until they are successfully re-examined by authorities.
Shenzhen, once a fishing town with a population of 30,000, has suffered worsening pollution as the economy has grown quickly. According to local water treatment departments, of the 310 rivers and streams running through the city, some 227, or 73 percent, suffer from pollution.
The environmental pollution department has tightened its action against illegal sewage discharges, but in the second quarter of this year about 650 companies were found breaking the rules, of which 10 companies seriously polluted the environment. They were fined 100,000 yuan each.