China / Society

Scope of policies tackling water pollution widened

By Wu Wencong (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-18 07:16

The Chinese government's policies to combat water pollution have changed from simply focusing on the polluted water bodies to managing the ecological system of entire river basins, a much more comprehensive approach, officials said.

"The coming water pollution prevention and control action plan to be released by the State Council will take into consideration the ecological conservation that involves mountains, waters, woods, lands and lakes within the river basin when treating pollution of a river," said Wang Qian, an official from the pollution prevention and control department of the Environmental Protection Ministry.

She said the central government's main attention when talking about water pollution control used to focus only on the polluted water itself, but starting from recent years, top officials have realized that to completely change the water quality of a river basin, a comprehensive management of the ecological system is a must.

Wang was speaking at a meeting held by the ministry's foreign economic cooperation office in Beijing on Friday.

"We have started work to evaluate the ecological conditions of each major river basin and will assign detailed tasks to local governments based on the results," she said.

The shift of the policies is very important, said Su Yibing, a professor at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences.

He said the ongoing international projects about water pollution control under the environmental sustainability program between the European Union and China have all taken ecological conservation of the targeting river basins into consideration, such as the better water ecological environment in Tianjin Binhai New Area, the management for water quality improvement in the Songhuajiang-Liaohe River Basin, and the nature-based solutions for sustainable drinking water sources of mega-cities.

Another project led by the Ministry of Water Resources also aims to control the environmental risks on river basin-level rather than simply on individual rivers.

"We will divide a river basin based on the usage of the water bodies - for example, whether the water is for drinking water or for industrial usage - and building files of the pollution sources within different divisions of the river basin for further management," said Chen Ming, head of the water resources department at the Ministry of Water Resources.

The "water action plan" mentioned by Wang from the Environmental Protection Ministry refers to a series of policies that are still pending, which are similar to an "airborne pollution action plan", also known as the toughest policies on airborne pollution ever, released by the State Council in September 2013.

Wang said the "water action plan" may not be introduced until August.

Hot Topics