City to start progressive charging for water

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Beijing will pilot progressive charging for residential water consumption in the first half of this year, according to the Beijing Water Authority.

Progressive charging for residential use will work on a quota basis, the Beijing Water Authority said Sunday. A consumption quota will be given to residents, from which anything over the fixed amount will be charged at twice the standard rate.

The authority said it has not yet decided on the quota or whether it will be individual-based or household-based.

"The plan will be as detailed as possible and opened to the public for comment," Bi Xiaogang, deputy director with the authority, said.

The current price of residential water is four yuan per cubic meter.

Residential communities for the pilot will be selected in June from the districts of Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu and Chongwen, as well as from suburban areas, said Bi.

Bi said all areas, types and standards of residences would be taken into consideration.

"Progressive charging will be applied across Beijing if the pilot proves successful," Bi said.

The plan for Beijing's progressive water charging dates is not new. Reportedly, at a public hearing about water prices in Beijing in 2004, a majority of representatives agreed on the idea. However, it was not included from 2004 to 2009.

The difficulties of implementing progressive charging lie in immature technical conditions, according to research on Beijing water price reforms by Jiang Wenlai and Tang Qu in 2009.

Changing water meters, separating quotas of individual residents from those of households, confirming water consumer numbers and other technical problems have resulted in delayed implementation, said Jiang and Tang in their research.

More than 16 cities in China have practiced progressive charging for residential water consumption in China, they said.

Despite the positive news, at least 80 million cubic meters of running water are still flushed away by toilets in Beijing due to malfunctioning recycling systems in residential communities, according to Beijing News.

A maintenance team manager surnamed Tao said many maintenance teams are not willing to pay the costs of providing recycled water to residents, Beijing News reported.

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