Article courtesy of OOSKAnews Correspondent | March 26, 2014 | Ooska News | Shared as educational material
Chinese companies that illegally discharge wastewater will receive a “heavy blow” from the government, according to Premier Li Keqiang.
Speaking at a recent State Council meeting on energy savings and emissions reduction, Li said the government will “crack down hard” on both businesses and local officials who have “ignored basic social responsibility and legal liability” for not providing proper oversight of discharges by companies that fall under their jurisdiction.
Last week, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources Jiao Yong said only 47.4 percent of the country’s surface water sources met water quality standards for their usage categories — drinking water, industrial water, agricultural water or landscaping water.
Jiao said his ministry will improve water quality by setting new discharge limits and making sure local governments are handling problems before they lead to public protests.
It is also planning to expand a pilot program that creates a system of “three red lines” — one each for total water consumption, total wastewater discharges and water efficiency targets. About 95 percent of the nation’s cities and some 700 counties have completed draft plans on these three lines, according to Jiao.
This year, the ministry, together with the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Council, will create a system to determine if local governments are enforcing better water management policies, he added.
Water pollution is a growing public concern in China, and this in turn has spurred more government action.
Last month, the water resources ministry announced a $330 billion USD plan, which is currently under review, to address water pollution and improve water quality. It involves investing in wastewater treatment and recycling and membrane technology.
In December, the State Council approved a plan that focused on water quality in lakes. This plan adjusts the industrial structure and distribution surrounding lakes as a way to limit discharges. It also strengthens pollution control measures for rivers that flow into lakes.
The council also issued a statement calling for stronger scientific management, use of proper technology, adherence to strict water source protection rules, increased government investment, and balancing environmental protection with economic development and livelihoods.
Just last week, over a hundred dead pigs were dumped into a major river in China’s eastern Jiangxi Province. The Ganjiang River provides drinking water to Nanchang, the provincial capital.
The pigs are believed to have been dumped in the river’s upper reaches. All tests showed that tap water in the area was safe for consumption.