Focus on waste-water treatment
Mainland officials plan to treat 70 per cent of waste water in urban centres and boost safe supplies by 2010.
Deputy minister of construction Chou Baoxing said yesterday that the national sewage treatment rate was only 56.67 per cent in cities and 13.63 per cent in counties last year.
In the ministry's five-year plan, no less than 70 per cent of urban waste water would be treated and the daily treatment capacity would be increased by 45 million tonnes by 2010.
The target is part of a ministry strategy to conserve water and protect the environment in line with the central government's call to cut consumption.
Mr Chou said that by 2010, upgrades would be rolled out in communities where water pipes had not been replaced for more than 50 years.
According to him, 248 mainland cities had no waste-water treatment facilities by the end of last year. More than 50 plants in about 30 cities operated below 30 per cent of capacity or were idle.
Industrialisation and urbanisation have put many water sources in peril. Major sources of pollution - daily sewage, industrial sewage and agricultural waste water - have not been well controlled, and the worsening quality and serious shortages have threatened tap water supplies.
The State Environmental Protection Administration recorded that 80 per cent of drinking water sources in 14 out of 47 major cities did not meet safety standards.
This month, an outbreak of blue algae fostered by heavy fertiliser use and untreated sewage in Changchun , Jilin , left nearly 25,000 people without water.
Shortly afterwards, 200,000 people in Jiangsu's Shuyang county were cut off from supplies for more than 40 hours when ammonia and nitrogen were found in a local river.
In late May, a major algae outbreak in Tai Lake, the mainland's third biggest, cut off water supplies to more than 2 million residents of Wuxi , Jiangsu, for several days.