Experts call for stricter water laws

Updated: 2014-05-20 07:41

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Following a series of water-polluting incidents across the country, experts are calling for the creation of emergency response solutions and stricter supervision of tap water safety.

Fuyang, Zhejiang province, suspended the county's supply of tap water on Sunday after the city's tap water source, the Fuchun River, was contaminated by tetrachloroethane from a tanker truck that had overturned.

The county's tap water has returned, but the incident has fueled serious concerns about water pollution issues.

"Now there are more than 90,000 industrial chemicals with the country's quick industrialization. But the country lacks adequate ways to deal with chemical spills, which often happen in the transportation of large amounts of chemicals," said Li Fengting, a water treatment expert.

Li, vice-dean of the College of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University in Shanghai, said the incidents of water pollution have exposed the inefficiencies of supervision and management.

"Enhancing supervision by authorities is very important," Li said at a conference on pretreatment of water and wastewater, which was held on Monday.

Li also suggested the country set up crisis-response measures and establish several emergency centers across the country that can act immediately when water pollution emergencies occur.

Qu Jiuhui, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said: "The establishment of an emergency response plan should cover many areas, such as risk management, technology support and facilities construction."

Earlier this year, the country's officials said China has entered the peak time of water pollution incidents with the fast development of urbanization.

"China's urbanization has exceeded 50 percent. Based on international experience, this could be a factor in the increase in water pollution incidents," said Qiu Baoxing, vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, as quoted by Xinhua News Agency.

According to a report from the Ministry of Environmental Protection in March, about 280 million people in the country drink unsafe water, and about 110 million people live less than 1 km away from at least one industrial location that has a potential pollution problem.

Li said the current environment assessment mechanisms in some projects should be changed, adding that everyone in such projects should take the responsibility of protecting the environment for the long term.