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China Pumps Up Use of Desalinated Water
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China made breakthroughs in key seawater desalination technologies with the result that it was able to produce 120,000 tons of desalinated water a day as of the end of 2005, lowering costs to about 5 yuan (US$0.63) a ton, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) revealed on its website.

On October 30, the NDRC and State Oceanic Administration (SOA) held a symposium in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, to discuss the desalination issue.

Speaking at the symposium, NDRC Vice Minister Jiang Weixin said that during the 10th Five-year Plan period (2001-2005), China achieved major breakthroughs in seawater treatment and utilization.

During this period, several desalination projects -- with a total capacity to treat 5,000 tons of seawater a day through reverse osmosis, and 3,000 tons using the distillation method -- were put into commercial operation.

Further, armed with these key technologies and equipment, China is now experimenting with projects that have a total daily handling capacity of ten thousand tons of seawater, Jiang added.

In terms of utilization, the NDRC, SOA and Ministry of Finance jointly issued the Special Plan on Utilization of Seawater. According to the plan, the country's daily desalination capacity is expected to reach 0.8 to 1 million cubic meters by 2010, with a corresponding annual direct utilization capacity of 55 billion cubic meters.

The plan adds that desalinated water would contribute 16 to 24 percent of overall water utilization in coastal areas.

Sun Zhihui, director of the SOA, said that five measures will be adopted to boost the use of desalinated water.

1. Structural adjustment acceleration. Industrial water consumption will be strictly restricted in the coastal areas, while enterprises will be encouraged to use desalinated water. Desalinated water will also be used to boost tap water supplies in urban areas; 

2. Technology advancement. Research and development will be boosted to solve technology bottlenecks;

3. Policy-making to regulate the use of seawater. This would include further water pricing reforms, devising incentives to encourage the use of desalinated water, developing financing channels, and encouraging private capital investment in this sector;

4. Fine-tune related laws and regulations; and

5. Strengthen overall coordination.

(China.org.cn by Tang Fuchun, November 6, 2006)

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