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Stricter water quotas to be set on businesses
By Li Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-24 01:11

Beijing will set stricter quotas on water-heavy businesses such as sauna baths and car washes this year to encourage these sectors to use more water-saving devices and techniques.

Golf courses and ski runs are also listed on the special sectors for the first time.

Water price hikes will soon be imposed on these industries, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Water Resources.

Jiao Zhizhong, director of the bureau, said the city has worked out rules for implementing the national Law on Water and the rules will be released by June this year.

According to the rule, organs or individuals who squander water or destroy water resources could be fined as much as 100,000 yuan (US$12,100).

Jiao said it's the first time the city will include water saving policies in the legal system. The rules may ensure water saving measures are carried out effectively and smoothly.

At the same time, the bureau signed water-supply agreements on Monday with 10 large enterprises that used almost 95 per cent of the city's total surface water last year, such as the Capital Iron and Steel Group and the Yanshan Petrochemical Co Ltd.

The agreements restricts the amount of water these enterprises can use in a given year.

Yu Yaping, an official with the bureau, told China Daily that although water quotas had been imposed on the 10 companies before, his bureau still supplied water to them if they exceeded the quotas in the past years.

"The stringent implementation of the quotas, as stated in the agreements, can effectively encourage the 10 enterprises to reduce water waste," said Yu.

He said the Beijing Tap Water Group, the largest supplier of tap water to urban residents, public places and work units in Beijing, also signed an agreement with his bureau.

"Leaking water pipelines are a very serious problem in the city. They waste a large amount of water every year," said Yu. "The strict quota can urge it to examine and repair the pipelines more frequently and carefully."

"Meanwhile, the water group can distribute its quota among its customers such as government organs and schools, which may encourage the units to take water saving measures," Yu added.

According to the agreements, the 10 enterprises should submit water use reports every month to the bureau. That may ensure effective management of surface water resources, said Yu.

Surface water accounts for nearly half of the city's total water supply every year, said Yu.

In another development, the thirsty city plans to replace in public places all toilets that use more than nine litres of water for every flush by the end of this year, according to a report on Tuesday's Beijing News.

Many of the flush toilets at public places, such as hotels, hospitals and shopping malls, use 10 to 13 litres of water every time they flush, almost double the international standard of six litres.

Meanwhile, the bureau encourages the use of inductor taps or foot-operated faucets in public places this year, says the report.

Zhang Shouquan, a water expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, hailed the move as an important measure to curb the prevalent water waste in public places.

"This seemingly trifling change has a profound effect on building a water-saving society in Beijing," said Zhang. He calls the change the "toilet revolution."

He suggested that public bath rooms should also take part in the revolution, as many people usually let water run for hours because the price for bathing is kept at a certain level and is not linked to the amount of water that is consumed.

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