Environmental quality has seen great improvement thanks to years of sustained pollution control. In 2005, 65.8 percent of cities recording air quality reached the national air quality standard of Grade II; up-to-standard potable water was 96.8 percent; urban sewage daily disposal capacity reached 80.91 million cubic meters, 9.5 percent up on the previous year; the rate for hazard-free treatment of urban household waste was 57.8 percent and for comprehensive utilization of solid industrial waste, 55.7 percent. By the end of 2005, the total discharge amount of the main pollutants was 10 percent down than in 2000, and of these S02 emissions fell by 20 percent. In most areas pollution has eased, the environmental quality of key cities and areas improved and trend of ecological deterioration curbed.
To tackle a new and increasing pollution problem the government drew up an electronic waste management system that extends producer responsibility and requires the producer to take partial or full responsibility for the environment where the electronic waste is abandoned. The system is designed to encourage greater consideration of the environment and use of recyclable materials on the part of producers. At the beginning of 2004, Zhejiang Province and Qingdao city were designated experimental sites for construction of disposal and recycling system for waste household electrical appliances and electronic products.
Since 2003, the State Environmental Protection Administration has published annual updates on pollution control in national key river basins and sea areas. Since the Yangtze Three Gorges Dam started to impound water on June 10, 2003, water quality in the reservoir area has not changed much from before. To ensure a safe water environment in the Three Gorges Reservoir Area, the government has planned to invest about 40 billion yuan between 2001 and 2010 to control water pollution in the reservoir area itself and the upper Yangtze. According to the Plan for Control of Water Pollution in Three Gorges Reservoir Area and the Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River, by 2010, water quality at the main control sections in the reservoir area and upper reaches of the river should meet Grade II standard as stipulated in the Environmental Quality Standard for Surface Water, and the eco-environment in the reservoir area should be much improved.
The seriously polluted Taihu Lake Basin started to receive a special "transfusion" treatment from 2002 -- clean river water was transported from the Yangtze into this freshwater lake basin covering an area of 36,900 sq km. Since its inception, the project has improved the water environment of the Taihu Lake Basin, benefiting a population of nearly 10 million.
For five consecutive years from 2001 to 2005, the Yellow River has not run dry and for three years running emergency water transfer from the Tarim River to the lower reaches has greatly improved the downstream eco-environment.
The program for prevention and control of water pollution, which started in 2001, planned five years of projects in 1,534 cities involving investment of 103.63 billion yuan. These included schemes for sewage treatment, water pollution prevention and control, control of agricultural and rural pollution, and comprehensive control of drainage areas. The vast majority of the projects have been completed and put into operation.