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Efficiency of Water Treatment
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More effort should be made by the government to improve efficiency in sewage treatment and water use, says a signed article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

Vice-Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing said recently that the department will enhance management on sewage disposal and start charging for treatment in all cities and towns by the end of the year.

It is quite understandable to collect sewage treatment fees to increase the cost of using water resources and promote conservation and water recycling.

China has far fewer water resources than the worldwide average. The water needed for per unit industrial added value in China is five to 10 times that in developed countries. Facing this severe fact, more should be done to improve water use efficiency.

Sewage treatment plants should be built in more cities. According to statistics by the Ministry of Construction, there were 150 cities that have not started charging the sewage treatment fees, and 278 cities have not built a sewage treatment plant. In those cities that have collected fees but not built a plant, where has the money gone?

The money collected under this name should all go to water treatment. Therefore, once the fee is collected nationwide, it should be made clear how the money is used.

The treatment plants should be fully utilized. There are at least 50 plants in 30 cities that are underused because of insufficient sewage collection networks or operational funds. Effective use of sewage treatment plants is key to recycling water resources.

The leakage rate of the urban water supply pipe network is very high in China and should be reduced. In some northern cities with insufficient water, the leakage rates even exceed 40 per cent. Besides insufficient funding and aging equipment, poor management and loose cost control contribute to the high leakage rates.

Sewage treatment plants should not become programs of exorbitant profits. Sewage treatment programs should be public welfare projects with low profits. But some investors make huge profits from loopholes like favorable taxation policies and poor government supervision.

The government should shoulder responsibility for the construction and operation of such projects. More than collecting fees, the government should regulate the industry through management and supervision.

(China Daily August 31, 2006)

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