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Water Systems in Shanghai Set for Upgrade
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Shanghai is preparing to launch an ambitious plan to improve tap water quality by upgrading pipelines and equipment and shifting the management of all residential water systems to city utility firms.

After trial operations are wrapped up in select communities, the 4.5 billion yuan (US$562.5 million) citywide campaign will begin next year and is scheduled to be completed by 2010.

Officials intend to upgrade water supply facilities as needed within the city's 8,000 residential areas, including pipelines, pumps, roof-top tanks and meters.

Control of the community systems will be shifted to city waterworks firms from property management companies one by one after the upgrades are completed in each community, according to the Shanghai Water Authority.

"The transfer of responsibility gives us a lot of work," said the authority's director, Zhang Jiayi. "It's a crucial step toward improving tap water quality and boosting the city's image as an international metropolis."

The city claims its water is drinkable when it leaves the processing plants but becomes contaminated inside residential complexes, especially the older ones, due to the poor maintenance of pipes, pumps and tanks.

In addition, the materials used in the water supply facilities in most residential buildings built before 2000 are of poor quality. The city calculates that 15,000 kilometers of pipes, 120,000 roof-top tanks and 8,700 underground tanks fall into that category.

At present, property management companies are in charge of all water facilities within their complexes, while water companies are responsible only for the pipeline networks.

The trial takeovers in several communities have worked well so far, city officials said.

But several details need to be worked out, such as the source of the investment and whether the municipal water companies will employ property management staff for maintenance.

(Shanghai Daily August 4, 2006)

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