The management of the country's fresh water supplies should now
be a major national priority and handled as a "State project",
Premier Wen Jiabao said.
Wen's comments come after a string of algae outbreaks tainted
drinking water supplies.
Jiabao drinks boiled tap water at a resident's home to inspect
the water quality in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, June 29. An algae
bloom contaminated the Taihu Lake a month earlier and halted water
supply for two million people in the lakeside city of
Since May, blue-green algae outbreaks have been reported in
eastern Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and southwestern Dianchi Lake.
Pollution has largely been to blame.
"We need to take environmental management of the three lakes as
a state project and put it at a more prominent, pressing and
important position," Wen said at a meeting over the weekend on
pollution control work of the three lakes in Wuxi of east China's
"We should tackle the problem with scientific approach, good
leadership, and high standards and confidence."
The priority is to protect the lakes from further pollution and
ensure the safety of drinking water for the local residents, Wen
At the meeting, Wen instructed local officials to "strengthen
supervision and ban factories from discharging pollutants into the
He also urged strengthened efforts to draft regulations on the
environmental protection of the three lakes.
Stung by a series of water crises, the country will adopt a new
national compulsory drinking water safety standard from this month
to secure safe water supplies for citizens.
The new standard is the first amendment to the outdated former
one, enacted in 1985.
According to the amendments, a total of 106 parameters have been
"Safe drinking water is vital to people's health and, to a great
extent, important to social stability as it's one of the primary
and basic needs for human survival," Wang Xuening, deputy director
general of the Bureau of Health Supervision under the Ministry of
Health (MOH), said.
"Given the fact that amending work headed by MOH has convened
specialists in fields like public health, environment protection,
and water supply, and has solicited public opinions as well, the
long-anticipated new standard would further improve the nation's
drinking water safety and finally enhance people's quality of
Chen Changjie, a researcher on environment protection with the
Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Daily
that when all the parameters under the new standard are fully met,
people should be able to drink water straight from the faucet.
"To be more exact, the tap water is safe to drink without
boiling with the pretext of no second-time contamination during the
transfusion, as long as the 42 regular parameters under the new
standard are met," Chen said.
"Most of the time, the water fresh from the supplier is up to
the standard and safe for direct use. However, the pipes used to
deliver the water to the consumer remains substandard."
It is recommended that in the meantime, water intended for
drinking should be boiled, Chen added.
The new standards define the basic condition of drinking water
and safe quality on a national basis.
Other secondary parameters are devolved to provincial
governments and given regional variations. It is expected that all
standards be fully implemented nationally by 2012.
(China Daily July 2, 2007)