China to spend 430 billion yuan on cleaning up its water supply

Ministry plans 4,800 projects to try and reverse decades of environmental damage

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 August, 2016, 10:34pm

China plans to spend a total of 430 billion yuan (HK$499 billion) on some 4,800 separate projects to improve the quality of its water supplies, the environment ministry said on Monday.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection said in a notice on its website that the central government had already allocated 13 billion yuan for this year, which would be used mainly to improve urban drinking water and prevent pollution in China’s major rivers.

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The notice did not give a time frame for the projects.

China is spending heavily to improve the quality of its water supply as it tries to reverse the damage done by unregulated chemical run-offs, untreated wastewater and the excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers.

Nearly two-thirds of its underground water and a third of its surface water is deemed unsuitable for human contact, according to a survey published last year.

To tackle water pollution, there would also be an incentive system that would reward provinces for completing projects on time and cut funding to those regions that failed to spend their allocations, the ministry said.

China has struggled to create the incentives to persuade local governments to build water treatment plants, which are expensive but have a limited impact on local economic growth. Fears stemming from Beijing’s crackdown on corruption have also slowed local infrastructure spending.