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Guangdong increases sewage fees
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A dual pricing system for the handling and treatment of household sewage will be introduced across Guangdong by the end of the year, its deputy governor Tong Xing said on Monday.

Charges for the handling of urban waste were introduced in 1999, and the money raised has helped finance numerous improvements to the provincial sewage treatment network, Tong said at a sewage conference in the city of Zhongshan.

However, 19 counties have failed to implement the system, and "some cities' charges are too low", he said.

"The system is central to our environmental protection plan, so it's imperative it is adopted across the province," he said.

Also, a dual pricing system will be introduced, he said.

For households in the Pearl River Delta, the charge will be increased to not less than 0.8 yuan (12 cents) per ton, while in less-developed areas the fee will be 0.5 yuan per ton, Tong said.

The current average across the province is about 0.5 yuan per ton, but there are huge discrepancies, he said.

In Meizhou, for instance, a little-developed city in the eastern part of the province, the fee is just 0.1 yuan per ton, so this will be increased to 0.5 yuan, he said.

In contrast, households in Shenzhen currently pay 1.05 yuan per ton, but this will remain, he said.

Authorities in all cities and counties have been ordered to introduce the fees for all households by the end of the year, Tong said.

As the cost of sewage handling and treatment continues to rise, further price increases could be necessary in the future, Tong said.

Under the new system, a family producing 20 tons of wastewater each month would pay about 16 yuan to the local government. "That is affordable for most families," a spokesman for the provincial pricing bureau said recently.

Yu Jing, an urban management researcher at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said: "Although the authorities have told people to pay more for sewage disposal, there have been no distinct improvements to the city's sewage disposal system."

The extra revenue should be used to improve the efficiency of sewage treatment plants to provide better protection for the environment, he said.

(China Daily September 3, 2008)

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