A senior lawmaker is proposing the integration of rural waste water management into the national water pollution control law.
"Rural areas are facing severe water pollution due to lack of awareness and poor water management," said Lu Ming, deputy head of the countryside affairs committee of the National People's Congress.
Rural pollution is mainly due to the usage of poisonous fertilizer and discharge of untreated sewage water, he said, listing a litany of woes.
About 322 million rural residents use unsafe drinking water. Of them, 50 million are drinking water containing high levels of fluorin, and 2.89 million, with high levels of arsenic.
The country uses more than 360 kg of fertilizer per hectare of land, 3.3 times and 1.6 times higher than in the US and EU countries.
But only 30 percent of the fertilizer is effectively used, compared to 60 percent for advanced countries. The unused fertilizer, carried away by rainfall, gives growth to dense growth of plant life in water bodies; and their decomposition depletes the supply of oxygen, leading to the death of aquatic life and water contamination.
Most of the 280 million tons of sewage generated each year runs untreated, and is discharged into rivers directly or just piles up.
Nine billion tons of sewage water is discharged every year. About 3 billion tons of waste is discharged by the poultry sector, a large proportion untreated.
Lu said he is proposing that rural water management be included in the amended Law on Prevention and Control of Water Pollution scheduled for discussion at the NPC Standing Committee meeting this week.
According to Lu, the major obstacle in rural water management is that there is no ministry directly in charge of the issue despite the fact that many ministries and the State Environment Protection Administration say they allot funds to rural water projects.
"There should be one ministry handling the issue," said Lu, who spent a year conducting surveys in rural areas. "I recommend the Ministry of Water Resources lead the work and SEPA play a supervisory role."
In a related development, a State Council meeting yesterday urged governments at all levels to take necessary measures to ensure drinking water safety in urban areas.
A statement released after a Cabinet meeting, presided by Premier Wen Jiabao, said:
Drinking water problems in 205 cities - which do not have enough water or have substandard water - will be resolved by 2010.
By the same year, 350 counties that have severe drinking water problems will also see a distinct improvement.
Drinking water safety will be vastly improved by 2020 in all the cities and counties where county governments are located.
Protection of water resources and conservation must be strengthened.
Construction and renovation of urban water supply facilities must be speeded up, and water purification technology upgraded.
A comprehensive surveillance system to monitor water quality from its source to the tap should be set up.
A back-up system has to be devised to deal with any supply emergency.
(China Daily 08/23/2007 page 1)
（英语点津 Linda 编辑）
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