China to spend US$330b on water pollution
Shanghai Daily, February 19, 2014
China plans to spend 2 trillion yuan (US$330 billion) on an action plan to tackle pollution of its scarce water resources.
China has a fifth of the world's population but just 7 percent of its water resources, and the situation is especially precarious in its parched north, where some regions have less water per person than the Middle East.
The plan is still being finalized but the budget has been set, exceeding the 1.7 trillion yuan China plans to spend battling its more-publicized air pollution crisis, the China Securities Journal reported yesterday, citing the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
It will aim to improve the quality of China's water by 30 to 50 percent, the paper said, through investment in measures such as waste water treatment, recycling and membrane technology.
The paper did not say how the funds would be raised, when the plan would take effect, or what timeframe was visualized, however.
Groundwater resources are heavily polluted, threatening access to drinking water, Environment Minister Zhai Qing told a news conference in Beijing last week.
According to government figures, a 2012 survey of 5,000 groundwater checkpoints found that 57.3 percent of the samples tested were heavily polluted.
China emits around 24 million tons of COD, or chemical oxygen demand, a measure of organic matter in waste water, and 2.45 million tons of ammonia nitrogen into its water each year, Zhai said.
Over the next five years, China had previously estimated, it would need to spend 60 billion yuan to set up sludge treatment facilities and a further 10 billion yuan for annual operating costs, according to the environment ministry.
China is short on water to begin with but its water problems are made worse by its reliance on coal to generate nearly 70 percent of its electricity while self-sufficiency in food remains a key political priority.
The coal process uses massive amounts of water to suppress dust and clean the fuel before it is burnt.