A river polluted by waste oil glimmers in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, in March.[Photo by Li Ruichang/China Daily]
In its effort to clean up polluted urban rivers, China will give more weight to public opinion in determining which rivers are given a clean bill of health and removed from a listing of polluted waters.
At least 60 percent of respondents to a government survey must conclude that a river or pond is polluted to have it included in the list of rivers that are polluted and to be remedied.
Only when more than 90 percent of residents who live near those rivers are satisfied that a river or pond is clean can the government then declare that river clean and remove it from the list of polluted rivers.
Additionally, the government will establish a monitoring platform to release updated information to the public in a timely manner on its pollution control efforts.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has the lead on the Guide on Polluted Urban Rivers Control, an action plan it released on Sept 11.
“It’s the first national long-term action plan to control urban river pollution covering the whole process from inspection to improvement of polluted water and evaluation of efforts,” said Zhang Linwei, deputy head of urban construction under the ministry.
The public opinions will weigh heavily in the final evaluation on the polluted river control, and to keep the public satisfied, the government will need to keep the river quality in good standing long term, with continued investment in pollution control efforts, said Sun Yongli, deputy chief engineer of National Engineering Research Center for Urban Water and Wastewater, in an interview with People’s Daily on Sept 11.
The guide has detailed stipulations on the whole process and set schedules on the national urban river pollution control campaign.
By the end of 2015, all cities are required to finish their inspections of urban rivers, to list the fouled and black rivers as their targets and release the control plans to the public for its input.
By 2017, there should be no floating garbage and no illegal sewage discharge. By 2020, the polluted urban rivers will be reduced to less than 10 percent, and major pollution problems in urban rivers should be resolved by 2030.
Polluted rivers have been a major target in the national water pollution control plan.
Eighty percent of urban Chinese rivers have been polluted, and many of them are foul-smelling and black all year, according to a report on techniques in controlling polluted rivers released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
More than 200 million tons of wastewater from industrial production and households has been discharged into urban rivers daily, and over 60 percent of water shortages in southern cities were because of water pollution, the report said.
Besides, more than 18 percent of the national rivers in 2014 had a water quality lower than Level V, meaning the water is extremely polluted and can’t be used for drinking, irrigation or tourist attractions, according to the ministry.
Thus the control on urban polluted rivers has been listed as a major target in the national water pollution plan, the ministry said.