River governors lose out if vital source is polluted

Updated: 2015-03-17 08:22

By YAN YIQI(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Chen Lizhong has many duties as the director of the administrative committee that runs a development zone, but there is one daily task that he always finds time for-monitoring the water quality of the river that goes through the site.

He is constantly on the lookout for evidence of activities along the Xinchengtang River that could cause pollution.

Chen is one of the governors of the river, and he has a personal, as well as professional, interest in ensuring that the water that crosses the Jiaxing Economic Development Zone in Zhejiang province remains unpolluted.

His performance evaluation is directly linked to the quality of the water. In addition, the governors are required to hand over a cash deposit. If the water quality falls below an annual target, the governors miss out on promotion opportunities and lose their deposits. The money goes into a fund that pays for measures to reduce pollution.

"Xinchengtang is the main source of drinking water for Jiaxing," Chen said. "Our burden is heavy because the whole city's drinking water safety depends on us."

Zhejiang established a five-level river governor system last year that requires senior officials to take full responsibility for the rivers in the province. The system includes six provincial river governors, 189 municipal ones and 2,344 county-level ones. A total of 5,042 km of rivers were cleaned up last year. The governors' names and contact details are published in the media.

The quality of the water in the river has risen since 2013. More than 60 industrial plants that were causing pollution have been closed, and two people were jailed for violating the environmental protection laws.

However, Chen said the process of improving the quality is not easy. Many people in villages along the river raise pigs, and the number of animals can reach a peak of 90,000 animals.

"Most of the pig sheds were built without modern waste disposal facilities," he said. "When it rains, excrement is washed into the river, causing serious pollution.

"Removing the sheds is the only way to solve this problem."