Wednesday, July 4, 2012

China-Drinking Water Safety

China's lawmakers on Friday called for better legislation to ensure drinking water quality.

The members of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee reviewed a report submitted by the State Council on the central government's work to ensure safe drinking water.

According to the government surveys conducted in 2007 and 2011, about 14 percent of China's water sources was unqualified for drinking and 11.4 percent of water supplied to cities was unsafe.

China amended its drinking water quality standards in 2006, increasing the number of water quality indicators to 106.

"By the end of 2015, all the 106 quality indicators will be implemented in the capital cities of all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions and all the 42 indicators will be implemented in their county towns. At the same time, we shall work hard to strengthen management and emphasize responsibilities so as to constantly improve drinking water safety. By the end of the 12th five-year plan, the quality of drinking water supplied to urban and rural residents will be effectively guaranteed," said Minister of Health Chen Zhu.

Currently, 298 million rural residents and 114,000 schools across the country have no access to safe drinking water. This problem must be solved within the 12th five-year plan period, said Li Guoying, Vice Minister of Water Resources.

However, legislators admitted that improving the quality of drinking water in China is a challenging task, particularly in rural areas.

"First, the responsibility system for chief executives will be implemented. Second, the funds for drinking water safety projects will be supplied on time. Third, project management should be strengthened to ensure the quality of engineering and construction. Four, water source protection and water quality improvement should be guaranteed," Li Guoying said.

In view of lagging legislation and ineffective law enforcement on drinking water safety, Song Dahan, director of the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, said that special administrative regulations will be enacted after the existing problems are comprehensively streamlined.

"We shall comprehensively study and streamline the problems, such as lagging legislation, ineffective law enforcement and flawed legal provisions. Based on these efforts, we shall enact special administrative regulations on drinking water safety as soon as possible," said Song. 

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