BEIJING — Vice-Premier Wang Yang and several cabinet ministers joined lawmakers on Aug 29 to review a report on law enforcement inspection results at a bimonthly legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC).
The inspection was carried out by the top legislature on the enforcement of the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law from May to June.
In response to lawmakers’ questions on the State Council’s overall plans to prevent and control water pollution, Wang said the requirement of protecting water environment will be reflected in the country’s industrial, investment, financial and taxation policies.
In addition, the State Council will explore approaches of evaluating local officials’ performance based on water quality protection in his or her jurisdiction.
Lawmaker Yuan Si raised the question of safety of drinking water in rural areas.
Chen Lei, minister of water resources, said that China has managed to provide safe drinking water to 305 million rural residents during the 12th five-year-plan period (2011-2015), with a total investment of over 180 billion yuan ($28.1 billion).
Chen said, by the end of this year, running water will reach 75 percent of rural households.
In addition, China has begun constructing 2,326 water quality test centers for more than 2,400 counties since last year, and they will start monitoring drinking water quality from the end of this year.
In response to prevention and control of water contamination from industrial sources. Chen Jining, environment minister, stressed industrial restructuring as a key solution.
Chen said that China will gradually close down a certain number of polluting enterprises in cities according to law, covering iron and steel, nonferrous metal, paper making and chemical industries.
Also, China will continue moving enterprises into industrial parks, and plans to build centralized sewage water treatment facilities for each industrial park by the end of 2017.
Moreover, China has launched trial projects on the trading scheme of sewage discharge quota. By the end of 2017, the projects will expand to all over the country and the scheme will play an essential role in water quality management.
Chen listed other measures, including warning polluting enterprises of suspension, public disclosure of polluters and a whistle-blow system.
Wan Gang, science and technology minister, said technological progresses will help address the issue.
Shifting from chemical to biological pharmaceutical, using herbs as raw materials for chemical consumer goods, and replacing lead-acid batteries with lithium-ion batteries will all help reduce emissions.
Such kind of arrangements for industrial restructuring need to be planned by the science and technology ministry in earliest date possible, Wan said.
Cabinet officials also answered lawmakers’ questions about water contamination from heavy metal pollution, agricultural production and wetland degradation.
Such procedures — questions and criticisms on matters of widespread public concern — are one of the means by which the NPC oversees the State Council, the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
According to the report on the top legislature’s inspection results, drinking water sources in 278, or 84.5 percent, of the 329 cities under inspection nationwide meet national standards.
Inspectors found potential polluters, including farms, households and public facilities, located near drinking water sources. In some places, there are heavily polluting industries in the upper reaches.