Emission of major pollutants sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen demand declined for the first time in China last year, the Ministry of Environment Protection said on its Website today.
COD emissions dropped 3.14 percent year on year to 13.84 million tons last year while sulfur dioxide discharges reached 24.68 million tons, a decline of 4.66 percent from 2006, the ministry said.
The industrial sector reported a drop in pollutants and waste materials discharged into the air or water. Solid industrial waste discharges decreased 8.1 percent to 11.97 million tons last year compared to 2006, the ministry said.
However, water pollution was still severe.
The Liaohe River in northeastern China and the Haihe River in northern China were seriously polluted, followed by medium-level contamination in the Yellow River and the Huaihe River in eastern China. The Songhuajiang River was slightly polluted, the ministry said.
The ministry said the water quality was fine in both the Zhujiang River in Guangdong and the Yangtze River.
Meanwhile, the East China Sea was labeled seriously polluted and the Bohai Sea was also lightly contaminated.
In coastal waters, 25.4 percent of the water was classified as Level 4, the worst rating according to the nation's standards. This represents a 1.1 percent increase from 2006, the ministry said. It said 62.8 percent of coastal waters were in good condition, a drop of 4.9 percentage points from 2006.
Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong warned earlier that the supply of safe drinking water is facing severe threats as scarce water reserves are being drained by rising industrial production, environmental pollution and a damaged ecology.
China supports about 22 percent of the world's population, but has only 7 percent of its fresh water supply. Most urban water-purifying facilities are backward and cities are failing to properly monitor and test drinking water, according to Chen.
Many rural residents still have to drink water that either has a high fluorine and arsenic content or is tainted with blood fluke, he said.
China's total water volume stands at 2.8 trillion cubic meters, of which 840 billion cubic meters can be used.
Under huge pressure to curb the deterioration of its environment, China has committed itself to improving energy efficiency by cutting energy consumption by 20 percent per unit of GDP, along with a 10 percent cut in major pollutants, between 2006 and 2010.
However, it missed both the government's energy conservation and discharge reduction goals last year.
China turned down 377 projects in 13 high energy consumption industries last year, which amounted to a total investment of nearly 1.5 trillion yuan (US$216.14 billion), the ministry said.
The ministry inspected more than 9,000 new industrial projects in 2007 and punished 1,194 others for failing to meet environmental requirements, it added.
China pledged to launch 10 projects totaling 583 billion yuan from 2006 to 2010, the government said in its Eleventh Five-Year Plan for National Environmental Protection issued on November 26 last year.
The plan promised environment protection investment should be at least 1.35 percent of the country's gross domestic product during the five-year period.
All About Emission, River pollution
(Shanghai Daily June 4, 2008)