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China to Speed up Urban Water Price Reform

Chinese Minister of Construction Wang Guangtao said here Tuesday that China must speed up its urban water price reform and try to set up a market-oriented price mechanism.


Wang told a national teleconference on water conservation that opened Tuesday that half of Chinese cities still do not charge for sewage water treatment, and leakage in the national water-pipe network has resulted a waste of 10 billion cubic meters of water each year.


China must reform its water price mechanism, so as to restrict people's unlimited water consumption and stimulate the reform of water supply and sewage water treatment enterprises, said Wang.


Currently, the average price of domestic water consumption in about 35 Chinese cities has raised from 0.14 yuan per cubic meter in 1988 to 1.26 yuan today, with an annual growth of 16.4 percent.


By the end of 2002, 325 cities of the total 660 Chinese cities had begun to charge for sewage water treatment, said sources with the ministry.


Wang said such a change has greatly improved water consumption efficiency in the urban areas. In each of the past three years, 3.5 billion cubic meters of water has been saved throughout the country, with the water re-use rate rising to 65.9 percent.


In the future reform, the costs for sewage treatment, water pipe rebuilding, and trans-regional water adjustment should also be considered, said Wang, urging all localities to set a restriction on water consumption and charge more for use that surpasses the limit.


Domestic water saving devices and equipment, Wang said, will be promoted nationwide as an effective way to save water resources.


All new buildings and those under reconstruction must be equipped with domestic water saving devices, as must old buildings meeting the criteria by the end of 2005, said the minister.


Wang also required all leaking and aging water pipes across China to be changed by the end of 2005, and the ministry will take further steps to strengthen the re-use of sewage water in gardening, urban fountains and car washes.


As of this May, 103 cities in 11 Chinese provinces and municipalities had reported an inadequate water supply, with 56 percent in severe shortage. At present, the per capita water resources shared in Beijing is only one-eighth of the national level and one-thirtieth of the global level, according to the ministry.


(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2003)

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