The biggest difficulty facing China's rapid urbanization is a shortage of water with about two thirds of its 661 cities facing this problem, China News Agency quoted a source from the Ministry of Water Resources as saying.
In more than 400 cities with water shortages about 100 are in serious trouble lacking sufficient water to support people's lives and industrial operations. And water pollution has made clean water more difficult to find.
More than 70 billion tons of wastewater was released last year with approximately 45 billion tons pumped into lakes and rivers without being treated. Ministry figures show that 90 percent of surface runoff in the country is polluted.
The ministry issued a regulation recently that called for the strengthening of the work of urban water departments to meet the increasing demands of quick urban development, according to China News Agency.
It said that the work should focus on controlling excessive urban development and avoiding high water-consumption industries and large-scale artificial water landscapes.
Groundwater requires to be exploited in a sustainable way, according to the regulation. It also demands that an early warning and emergency system for urban water crisis be established.
Ministry figures show that among some 600 cities at risk from floods only 40 percent have flood defenses that meet national standard.
The ministry, in the regulation, has resorted to market-driven water pricing to address its water shortage headache.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a new regulation on the supervision of water pricing on November 13 to clarify what can and cannot be included in the cost of water supply.
The NDRC regulation indicates the price should be based on the cost of the water supply which comprises the costs of tapping water resources, providing running water, installing pipes and treating sewage.
(China Daily November 24, 2006)