The pricing mechanism should be used to encourage water conservation in the car-washing industry, says an article in the Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post. The following is an excerpt:
According to news reports, the car-washing industry uses more than 10 million tons of water every year in Shanghai. By the end of June the city was home to 792 registered car-washers, only 40 of which were equipped with recycling equipment to allow for water conservation.
The recycling equipment, which allows car-washers to save up to 60 percent of the water used, would be appropriate for Shanghai, a city that faces shortages of this precious resource.
Early in 2003 the municipal government issued a regulation requiring car-washers that wash more than 50 cars a day or use more than 300 cu m of water a month to install recycling equipment. It is clear that the regulation has not been well enforced.
To a large extent, the low price of water is to blame for the lack of interest in water conservation equipment. According to the local rules, water costs 1.5 yuan (20 US cents) per ton for car washers who use recycling equipment, and 5 yuan for those who do not use conservation systems. Such low prices obviously will have little effect on the car-washing industry.
In Beijing, the rate for the bathing industry is 60 yuan per ton. It is 40 yuan for the car-washing industry and 20 yuan for the laundry business. It is easy to see why the 5 yuan charged in Shanghai has not inspired car-washers to adopt recycling equipment.
The authorities should use pricing to support conservation.
(China Daily September 27, 2007)